The Living by Annie Dillard

By Annie Dillard

Pulitzer Prize-winner Dillard ( Pilgrim at Tinker Creek , HarperCollins, 1988) turns her hand to fiction with this ancient novel of the yank Northwest within the past due nineteenth century. targeting the cost at Whatcom on Bellingham Bay (near Puget Sound), Dillard deals a compelling portrait of frontier existence. the unconventional has a wide and richly various solid of characters, from the enticing frontiersman Clare Fishburn and japanese socialite-turned-pioneer Minta Honer to the disturbed and violent Beal Obenchain and kleptomaniac Pearl Sharp. The dwelling is unflinching in its delineations of pioneer lifestyles at its worst and best--racism and brutality at the one hand and optimism and charity in adversity at the different. Dillard's view of "the living" in its many senses is a good novel that's a necessary buy for all fiction collections.
- Dean James, Houston Acad. of Medicine/Texas clinical Ctr. Lib.

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You filthy beggar, get out of here, don't touch me, if you lay a finger on me I'll cane you to death . . and he'd go back to the window with the broken panes, stark . naked. The old women and the nuns didn't dare cross the court with the orange trees anymore. We decided that the best thing was to board up the shutters of his cell. But he always managed to break them down. Until one night, as Don Clemente slept, I walled up his window with bricks and cement, the first window I walled up in the Casa.

It was witch­ craft, black magic, and that's why the peasants were being crushed under the weight of endless misfortunes. Over the bone­ dry plains, where the animals swollen with thirst were dying off, the head of the landowner's daughter, flapping huge sinewy ears that were like bat wings, would fly after the yellow bitch dog­ it was warty and scrawny like the girl's nursemaid-that guided the chonch6n to a place indicated by the rays of their accom­ plice, the moon, on the other side of the hills.

I'm the seventh old woman. I'll take it upon myself to watch over the Azcoitia about to be born. Iris's - 50 vomit, which I washed from the kitchen tiles, anointed me. I keep it wrapped in a floor rag, with my books and my manu­ scripts, under the bed, where all old women keep their things. THE FIRST TffiNG I had to do was win them over. If I didn't find a way to dazzle them, I'd be accepted by them in name only, even though I'd groveled for them. I let a few days go by while I laid my plans, letting them go on barely talking to me and watching me on the sly.

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