This week was both oddly busy and yet provided quite a bit of time to read, a situation with which I am never sorry. I completed three books (Again, one at a time. I'm really rather liking this method) all of which I found simply fabulous. It is possible I will finish one more this evening, but I am not done with it yet so I won't speak of it here,
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard - Very occasionally I come across a book and wonder how I survived as long as I have without having already read this book. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is just such a book. I don't think it hurts that I have finally decided to abandon all pretense of coolness or decorum and lie on the ground to look at bugs, spend hours feeding fish stale bread in hopes of seeing "the big one" (Incidentally, I have, and he is amazing. And if I see you on my dock with a fishing pole, I will shoot you with my .38 out of respect for my fish friends). I comb my bird books; hang out with binoculars. I observe and enjoy and am continually mystified by nature. Sometimes it's so amazing I can hardly stand it. Annie Dillard write of wonder and minutiae, nature and mystery, and glory in the humblest of creatures in her wonderful collection of essays. Perhaps it is because I am a snake lover and amoeba wonderer that I enjoyed the book so well. I do not think it is one the will be universally loved or received, but for me it a glorious exploration of the vast and minute, what is unfathomable and what is invisible mesh to become a story of glorious inter-connectivity. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke - My friend Pattie moved to Alaska in August, and since then I have stalked her life with pretty intense curiosity. I want to know about her hours of daylight, average temperatures, snowfall, wildlife and lifestyle. I'm glad she doesn't tire of my near constant questions because I simple can't help myself. When I came across this book compiled of journal entries of one man's sixteen month stay in his hand built cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, there was no way I was going home without it. Richard Proeneke does what I sometimes dream of doing: he walked away from society (not out of disgust but out of a sense of adventure) and moved into the Alaskan wilderness, relying on his skills (which are considerable) and his ability to adapt and care for himself. His only connection to the outside world are intermittent visits from a bush-plane pilot who flies packages, letters, supplies and news in from the outside world every few months. Richard is both thoughtful and precise. His journal speaks of clarity of vision, simplicity and appreciation for his own personal skills, and the beauty of the natural world. A quick read, I finished the book in a couple afternoons. I was spellbound by the pictures and found myself even more inclined to stalk my friend for the rest of her stay in Alaska. Sorry, Pattie.
The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter - It wasn't until after I read this book that I realized the incredible amount of controversy surrounding the book (which I leave you and google to explore because I am not in the habit of judging motives or design, I'm just reading books here). Of all the books I picked up on my little artist outing, this seemed the least likely to actually be read before the time came to turn it back in. But I picked it up to give a go anyway, and I am pleased I did. For all the controversy surrounding it, I found it to be a delightful coming of age story of a half-Native American boy in a time of extreme poverty and discrimination. It is simply written and without artifice as it is meant to be from the viewpoint of a very young narrator. I found the characters to be believable and beautiful, and the story was compelling. I would read the book again.