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Review: "Teaching A Stone to Talk" by Annie Dillard

This rather short compendium of thought-provoking essays was interesting at times but occasionally felt like it wandered away and left me behind. Never having read Dillard before I was interested in both her styling and thinking. She often can take a sentence and turn it into a brilliant concept or unique thought that actually had me stop to consider her metaphor more deeply. Entrenched in the vagaries and mysteries of the natural world she attempts to make some kind of sense out of the vast differences that abound in both are planet and the larger cosmos. Some experiences she recounts are large beyond scope, the actual witnessing of a solar eclipse. Some are minuscule, a rainforest deer caught in a trap. These and others compel Dillard and the reader to consider our first person encounters with the real world in conjunction with the larger attempt at understanding, what, if anything, this all means. It appears that she resolves to accept the mystery, the uncompromising impossibility of comprehension. Let's consider it this way. Dillard, in sharp-witted and die-cut prose, is wrestling with the world. Our amazing and expansive brain power can do so much. Problem- solve, enact creative endeavors, conjecture possibilities and philosophies on both the molecular and the infinite, yet we cannot solve all inquiries. Perhaps never. Perhaps God is the ultimate quandary. And within our incredible brains there is a veil cast that despite our best efforts, we will never pierce. Dillard joins the countless members of humanity who have struggled with these questions. I'm delivering a very quiet recommendation here. Most people I know would find this book somewhat on the boring side. I understand that. Most want stories, myths, beginnings and ending. That's not what the world really offers. That's not what Dillard provides.

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