book beginnings on Friday: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.


I have come across Annie Dillard’s name in enough nature writings I’ve enjoyed – fiction and non – that it’s definitely time to find her myself. I’ve started with her Pulitzer Prize-winner, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I’m including the whole first paragraph here because I felt it necessary:

I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest. I’d half-awaken. He’d stick his skull under my nose and purr, stinking of urine and blood. Some nights he kneaded my bare chest with his front paws, powerfully, arching his back, as if sharpening his claws, or pummeling a mother for milk. And some mornings I’d wake in daylight to find my body covered with paw prints in blood; I looked as though I’d been painted with roses.

Evocative, isn’t it, the idea of this woman naked, painted in bloody cat prints like roses? Poetic, a little shocking. I like this as a beginning; it certainly gets one’s attention. This is, incidentally, the image referenced in my recent (new favorite) read, Dirt Work: Christine Byl called this a “lyric” defining “wild”. So that’s an auspicious start. Stay tuned.

One Response

  1. […] one-or-less-per-book, so there you are. This is my review of roughly half the book. Despite a promising beginning, I am not sure that I love Annie Dillard as much as do many of my favorite authors. Odd, that. In […]

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