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"Buddhism asserts that it is always a mistake
to think your soul can go it alone."

--from For The Time Being

For The Time Being
For The Time Being
Annie Dillard
March, 1999

Difficult to describe and impossible to categorize, this lyrical and meditative personal narrative offered here is a kaleidoscope of variations on recurring themes.

Here is a natural history of sand, a catalogue of clouds, a batch of newborns on an obstetrical ward, a family of Mongol horsemen. Here is the story of Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin digging in the deserts of China. Here is the story of Hasidic thought rising in Eastern Europe. Here are defect and beauty together, miracle and tragedy, time and eternity. Here are questions about God, natural evil, individual existence.

"How can an individual matter? How might one live?"

Reflecting on places (from the Wailing Wall to the Great Wall), people (from mass murderers to martyrs of various faiths), and events (from severely deformed babies to attempts at delaying death), the threads of the various narrative themes begin to coelesce as 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.

Dillard, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek in 1972, has "once again taken on the impossible, plunging into her obsessions with passion, a verbal street fighter in the back alley of the greatest human mystery..." (Steven Harvey, Atlanta Journal Constitution )

"..I can't shake the suspicion that Dillard's mystical pan-entheism is spiritual Prozac for those who suffer from very real philosophical anxiety and depression.."
(Patrice Koelsch - Hungry Mind Review

I found For The Time Being highly readable, a delight for the mind and soul, and recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone who has ever asked the universal question "why am I here?".

Also by Annie Dillard

Mornings Like This
The Living
The Writing Life
An American Childhood (memoir)
Encounters with Chinese Writers
Teaching a Stone To Talk
Living By Fiction
Holy The Firm
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Tickets for a Prayer Wheel

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