27 June 2007

Cosmic realism

Marilynne Robinson reviews The Maytrees (and completely, marvelously gets it):
Annie Dillard's books are like comets, like celestial events that remind us that the reality we inhabit is itself a celestial event, the business of eons and galaxies, however persistently we mistake its local manifestations for mere dust, mere sea, mere self, mere thought. The beauty and obsession of her work are always the integration of being, at the grandest scales of our knowledge of it, with the intimate and momentary sense of life lived.

The Maytrees
is about wonder -- in the terms of this novel, life's one truth. It is wonder indeed that is invoked here, vast and elusive and inexhaustible and intimate and timeless. There is a resolute this-worldliness that startles the reader again and again with recognition. How much we overlook! What a world this is, after all, and how profound on its own terms.
My copy actually arrived on Saturday (!), and my friend (visiting from Jamaica) was able to read it before she left. I am starting it today, but don't want it to be over. I own every book she's written. They've been read and reread and then reread some more... When I've reached the last page, I'll turn back to the first and begin again. (This is my consolation.)

According to New York Magazine, Annie Dillard's done with writing. The statement is basically the same as what's up on her website, but I did smile at this last touch:
She did mention one, possibly tongue-in-cheek idea for further work: “To take all my never-used metaphors and just throw them up in the air for other writers to use.” Grab Bag, by Annie Dillard? “I like the title Free-for-All,” she says.
I'm all for her getting away from the hoopla surrounding book releases to sequester herself with her reading. And given that her works are indeed "celestial events," who knows when the next one will shoot across our sky?

(both links via Ed)

2 comments:

Ballve said...

Dear amcorrea,
It's an interesting gesture, the writer or poet or artist who decides to abandon their supposed field or activity: Rimbaud's gesture of abandoning it all for Africa. Or I can think of Brazil's Lygia Clark, who first abandoned the canvas, then the gallery, and then art altogether for something that might be described as sensual therapeutics, though some would call it art. I'm disappointed to see Dillard simply saying "I'm tired," though, as if there was some sort of resignation she needed to account more. The point for me is that life is more important than any one narrow sphere of activity, and that perhaps the best art is that which is lived and experienced instead of performed, written or painted.Anyways, thanks for the post. I like Dillard.

amcorrea said...

Ballve, thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I entirely agree with your estimation of the best art being "that which is lived and experienced." I share your disappointment by her announcement, but I'd like to think it's mainly to get the burden of expectation off of her back--the unending circus of the hoopla that surrounds publication. I don't think she could help herself from writing more, though. Maybe she'll stop publishing for now, but I can't really believe that she'll stop writing...it's too deep in her bones for that.

And your blog looks interesting--great title! I've added you to my humble 'roll.