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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 14 April 1998
Annie Dillard is one of the best writers today. Her prose is poetic and her poetry is perfection. The Living, a marvelous book about the trials and tribulations of pioneers, is gripping, descriptive, and wonderfully told. To read it, was to be transported. You felt the moss on the trees, you smelled the rich pines, you tasted the salt air. It's an achievement, in every sense of the word.
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on 17 April 1997
So this was 19th Century Puget Sound before we messed it up with logging, suburbs, freeways, and all the other entaglements of modern life? I'm sorry I missed it; battling I-5 traffic is not nearly as adventurous as trying to fell 500 year old fir trees by burning out the core (it's in the book). A great story; Dillard is a quirky writer, but that makes the book fun.
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on 3 July 1997
My book group loved it. I was the sole exception. I did not love it. I found it a dark, claustrophic book. Perhaps that was intentional on the author's part - all those big trees blocking out the sun and all. I will admit that the American pioneers hold little faciniation for me, which undoubtedly skews my opinion. I understand that in them there days people probably "reckoned" all kinds of things. I don't think today's prose describing the past needs to be full of idiomatic accents. I reckoned that was distracting more than anything else. So we have a dark dark book full of reckoning AND it is episodic to boot. Episodic, while occassionally an effective liturary devise, can also strike one as a method to use in stringing together vingettes and never fully realizing the characters' depth. So, now I am left with a dark, claustrophobic, episodic novel full of pretentious accents. I know others love this book. It did not work for me.
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on 6 August 1997
This is prose craftsmanship at its finest. Dillard's imagery shimmers; her sentences are watertight. She tells a vast story with prose that is poetic in its economy of language. When Dillar is at her best -- and she is often in this book -- her words ring like church bells.
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on 25 June 2012
Haven't read it yet, but very pleased to receive this in good condition from the states. The cover image is wonderful and that's all I can say without having started the book yet!
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on 27 January 1998
My book club also read this one. While one cannot dispute that Annie Dillard is a wonderful craftsman of words and prose, I didn't feel that she exacted the necessary character attachments and drama for this to be a successful novel. Perhaps we would have been better served had she stayed with her forte: non-fiction.
On the plus side, I have not read a more beautiful or perfectly written final paragraph in recent memory, which endeared the book to me more so than it would have otherwise.
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