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Holy the Firm Paperback


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Holy the Firm + Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters + Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Revised edition (December 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060915439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060915438
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.8 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A book of great richness, beauty and power." -- -- New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Annie Dillard is the author of many works of nonfiction, including An American Childhood and Teaching a Stone to Talk, as well as the novels The Living and The Maytrees.


More About the Author

Annie Dillard is the author of ten books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winner Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, as well as An American Childhood, The Living, and Mornings Like This. She is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and has received fellowship grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, Dillard attended Hollins College in Virginia. After living for five years in the Pacific Northwest, she returned to the East Coast, where she lives with her family.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 32 customer reviews
Annie Dillard has a special way of speaking to her readers.
Jon Linden
This is a book that makes me think that everything else I've ever read was only approximate use of language to convey some idea.
Gord Wilson
This has been my favorite book ever since I read it in 1994.
Oleander

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 128 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Annie Dillard is one of those writers who is all or nothing. Many people don't "get" her and find her bewildering. But to some of us, she speaks to some unspoken hunger in our souls that we never knew we had. The year after a personal tragedy I read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Holy the Firm incessantly, finding in Dillard's thoughts and imagery a necessary verbalization of my pain and spiritual confusion. She is able to capture in one short phrase the complex muddle of emotions found at certain times in one's life and the reader knows that she's been there. To filch a line from another book: "When one walks in the shadow of insanity, the finding of another footstep on the sand is something close to a blessed event." I do not exaggerate when I say Holy the Firm saved my mind.
This is not to say that Dillard is all gloom-and-doom. Many of her lines are extremely witty and can make you burst out laughing with her insight and sardonic humor.
Either she clicks with you or she doesn't. But for those of us with whom she does, Dillard is wonderful.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Gord Wilson VINE VOICE on March 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
While attending Western Washington University I had the great good fortune to take a poetry class from Annie Dillard. My own poetry was abysmal and she gave me this advice, "writing is like prayer; you sit and listen for the still small voice." She had won the Pulitzer prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and was in the process of writing Holy the Firm while at Fairhaven College at Western. She read us the bits about the moth and the flame. This is her slenderest book, but the one in which she most takes her own advice. It's prose that reads like poetry.

This is a book that makes me think that everything else I've ever read was only approximate use of language to convey some idea. In this book it seems like every word is carefully chosen, as if it comes from some place of meditation, of listening to a still small voice. It's a very human book, for all the sparks of the divine. By another accident I heard her read from it at the University of Washington. The final passage seemed to rise to a climax and hang in the air. No one spoke, no one left. It was one of those magical moments. Holy the Firm is all one piece and can be read through in one sitting as one experience. It's very much a writer's book, and I see most of the reviews are by writers finding some echo in a fellow writer. Some reviewers have put much better than I what it's about. I merely suggest that Dillardians (and other readers) may enjoy this oft-overlooked book.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By John Anderson on January 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I don't like using words like "perfect" but I think it is warranted here. This is an incredibly literate piece of work, in which not one single word has been wasted. Each time I read it I come away exhililrated & humbled by Dillard's mastery of language & the enormous depth of scholarship that lies behind every line and every metaphor. This is writing by someone drunk on language & learning, try not to stuff it into any pre-conceived notions of literature -this is music. Dillard has crafted a classical symphony for us in which certain movements come back over and over in variations of harmony and melody that will sweep you away. Now, that being said, I must also say that it seems that half my best students love Dillard & half hate her. Very little in between. Yesterday one of my brightest (who loves Dillard) threw up her hands and said "Now I hate her, I will have to spend seven years reading to know what she is saying". Yes, of course! but the joy of Dillard's immersion in Anglo-American theology and literature is that she draws you along -it isn't name dropping, thesefolks have been useful to her & she wants us to come too. Read Holy The Firm with Eliot's Four Quartets in the other hand, then you can have a go at Johnson, Martin Luther.... AND YOU WILL!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Mitton on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was attracted initially to this book based on Dillard's other works and the idea that she holed herself up in the Puget Sound area for a couple of years to think things through. Wow. Maybe more of us should stop and watch and think and write for a couple years. There is an almost imperceptible inner longing that runs throughout this book. I imagine Dillard working very hard over every word and that effort comes through to the reader in the depth of each sentence. She's not always accessible and I know people who just can't get through her books. I don't argue - she's rarely breezy and always deep but I always find her writing to be satisfying and challenging. A rare gem.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Pulitzer-Prize winning author Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm transcends the genres of poetry and essay as fluidly as it does the disciplines of philosophy and religion. Her writing is lucid and inspiring and this tiny volume contains more insight and wisdom than virtually any other modern text I've encountered. I'd highly recommend this book to any reader, in hopes that Dillard's unique writing style and her spirited intellect can bring to others the same inspiration they have brought me.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Annie Dillard has a special way of speaking to her readers. Her language is light and airy, yet filled with great significance and meaning. She blithely covers the most difficult and complicated of human subjects, with terrific contemplation. And what she yields is a treasure, a gem to be internalized and imbued.

In this book, Annie discusses God. She is confused by the way in which random events that hurt and injure seem to be disconnected with the way in which we would like to live. If these random and terrible events take place, without willful malice; then how could it happen that God would let such terrible things occur?

She describes a day in her life. In that day there is a young girl visiting, to whom she is attracted and vice versa. They have a chemistry that brings them within each other's spheres. This beautiful girl becomes the casualty of an airplane crash. No one else is hurt. No one is dead. But this girl for a random reason, is hit with a globule of flaming kerosene, and her face is totally burned away.

This anomaly is the framework of the book. She could have chosen 1000 other examples that set up this question. But she chose this one of the girl, one that could be personal not just to her; but also to her readers. She reminds us that there is no everyday, omnipresent God directing things. And there is no way to figure out these random events. There are only DAYS. And those days are filled with things that we do or don't do. There is no God that will directly intervene and tell us what to do, or save us. He is as ruthless as he is merciful. His form, however, is quite another story. His form is spiritual, not worldly, and not mundane. And we must remember that we control most of the things in our lives directly.
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