Friday, April 11, 2008

i went to the book store

because I wished to buy Annie Dillard's An American Childhood.

I came out of the used bookstore with:
  • An American Childhood
  • The Writing Life (also Annie Dillard)
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (again, Dillard)
  • The Little Prince
  • Wind, Sand and Stars (also Antoine De Saint Exupery)
  • and To Kill a Mockingbird
which believe it or not, I don't own. Now I do.

I am a new fan of Annie Dillard. I love her writing. I first heard of Annie Dillard because one splendid evening last spring, a few of us brought snippets to read aloud to each other at a coffeeshop, and Betsy shared this:
One Sunday afternoon Mother wandered through the kitchen, where Father was making a sandwich and listening to the ball game. The Pirates were playing the New York Giants at Forbes Field. In those days, the Giants had a utility infielder named Wayne Terwilliger. Just as Mother passed through, the radio announcer cried--with undue drama--"Terwilliger bunts one!"

"Terwilliger bunts one?" Mother cried back, stopped short. She turned. "Is that English?"

"The player's name is Terwilliger," Father said. "He bunted."

"That's marvelous," Mother said. "'Terwilliger bunts one.' No wonder you listen to baseball. 'Terwilliger bunts one.'"

For the next seven or eight years, Mother made this surprising string of syllables her own. Testing a microphone, she repeated, "Terwilliger bunts one"; testing a pen or a typewriter, she wrote it. If, as happened surprisingly often in the course of various improvised gags, she pretended to whisper something else in my ear, she actually whispered, "Terwilliger bunts one." Whenever someone used a French phrase, or a Latin one, she answered solemnly, "Terwilliger bunts one."
The whole book An American Childhood is a narrative of her growing up in Pittsburg in the 50s. It's gripping. She paints with words; she writes about life.

more snippets to come.

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