I wrote the following review for the September 2014 Conde Nast Traveller: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard.
After reading Annie Dillard’s finely observed descriptions of nature and place you begin to see the world truly. On her walks, Dillard sees herself as both explorer and stalker and Tinker Creek – near her home in a valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains – becomes a microcosm of the earth, Blake’s ‘world in a grain of sand.’ She records what she observes, however seemingly small; events that without her keen eye would otherwise have been entirely missed and lost. We see what we expect to see, but Dillard consciously override the obvious: “I once spent a full three minutes looking at a bullfrog that was so unexpectedly large I couldn’t see it.” ”Seeing,” she says “is of course very much a matter of verbalisation. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won’t see it.” Anyone who can help us pay attention, as Annie Dillard does, is to be celebrated.