This book was an absolute delight to read. It’s a set of personal narratives where Annie Dillard takes two (sometimes more) ideas, experiences, and/or encounters and combines them in the most magical way. There are not many wasted words here. The stories are short and you wonder how she fit it all in. She also referenced other works in short, pithy statements that added
The stories had the effect of making me view my own life in a different way. I’ve had similar experiences to what Dillard describes in this book, but mine seem mundane. Her experiences are magical. Perhaps it’s a matter of the way I approach mine.
There was also a reference to a story about The Franklin Expedition of explorers to the arctic. This set of warrior poets set out to explore the arctic with exquisite china place settings, cut-glass wine goblets, and a hand-organ. They failed to bring warm clothes. They perished. Froze to death. The book I read right before this, The Sacred Romance, referenced that exact story. Annie Dillard went more in depth. In fact, Teaching a Stone to Talk, was one of the books referenced in The Sacred Romance. That has happened a few times with this project now where books that are back to back reference each other. I randomize the order of my reading list, so for that to happen, something magical puts the two books together.
There was one sentence in particular that resonated with me. I started reading this book a day after my 40th birthday. This quote is powerful:
I thought I was younger, and would have more time.
That about sums it up. Time goes so quickly. Where did the first 40 years go? I really thought I’d have more time.