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For the Time Being
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About the Author

Annie Dillard lives in Middletown, Connecticut.

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Dillard, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in 1972, has written another splendid meditative and spiritual book. Reflecting on places (from the Wailing Wall to the Great Wall), people (from mass murderers to martyrs of various faiths), and events (from the birth of severely deformed babies to attempts at delaying death), Dillard shares doubts, hopes, and insights that cut across religious boundaries and plumb human perplexities. She leads the reader into deeper questions, considerations of ultimate mystery, and a sense of the holy in the midst of the profane and even the terrible. Suitable for those of various religious traditions as well as unaffiliated seekers and highly recommended for all libraries.ÄCarolyn M. Craft, Longwood Coll., Farmville, VA

"At heart Annie Dillard's work is a record of her search for God . . . [and] For the Time Being is a brilliant book that . . . sums up God more succinctly than she ever has before."
--David Bowman, Salon Magazine

"This uncommon book is a testament to a rare and redeeming curiosity . . . an exhilarating, graceful roundelay of profound questions and suppositions about the human adventure in nature. And as always, reading Dillard makes this mind-expanding experience an emotional one . . . with a voice blending clear-eyed factuality with prismatic meditations on ineffable things."
--James Zug, Outside Magazine "Writing as if on the edge of a precipice, staring over into the abyss, Dillard offers a risk-taking, inspiring meditation on life, death, birth, God, evil, eternity, the nuclear age and the human predicament. Her razor-sharp lyricism hones this mind-expanding existential scrapbook, which is imbued with the same spiritual yearning, moral urgency and reverence for nature that has informed nearly all of her nonfiction since the 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek."
--Publishers Weekly "This absorbing meditation . . . [is] a spare yet exquisitely wrought narrative . . . By turns funny, flinty, and sublime, Dillard meshes the historical, the scientific, the theological, and the personal in a valiant effort to net life's paradoxes and wonders."
--Donna Seaman, Booklist "A work of piercing loveliness and sadness . . . One of those very rare works that will bear rereading and rereading again, each time revealing something new of itself."
--Kirkus Reviews

Writing as if on the edge of a precipice, staring over into the abyss, Dillard offers a risk-taking, inspiring meditation on life, death, birth, God, evil, eternity, the nuclear age and the human predicament. This unconventional mosaic, portions of which were first published in different form in Raritan, Harper's, etc., interweaves several disparate topics: the travels of French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin in China and Mongolia, where his team in 1928 discovered the world's first fossil evidence of pre-Neanderthal humans; the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th-century Ukrainian Jewish mystic who founded modern Hasidism; a natural history of sand‘an epic drama of rocks, glaciers, lichen, rivers‘and of individual clouds as witnessed by painters, poets, naturalists, scientists and laypeople. Rounding out this fugue are Dillard's visits to an obstetrical ward to watch healthy newborns emerge; her survey of tragic, horrific human birth defects; random encounters with strangers; her trips to Israel, where she visited Jesus' birthplace, and to China, where, at the tomb of the first Chinese emperor, Qin‘mass murderer, burner of books, Mao's idol‘she inspected the terra-cotta army of life-size soldiers who guard Qin in the afterlife. Dillard's unifying theme is the congruence of thought she detects in Teilhard, Kabbalists and Gnostics: each impels us to transform, build, complete and grant divinity to the world. Her cosmic perspective can seem like posturing at times, yet it succeeds admirably in forcing us to confront our denial of death, of the world's suffering, of the interconnectedness of all people. Her razor-sharp lyricism hones this mind-expanding existential scrapbook, which is imbued with the same spiritual yearning, moral urgency and reverence for nature that has informed nearly all of her nonfiction since the 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. 60,000 first printing. (Mar.)

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