The Living

The Living

by Annie Dillard


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This New York Times bestselling novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard is a mesmerizing evocation of life in the Pacific Northwest during the last decades of the 19th century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060924119
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/12/2013
Series: Harper Perennial
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 419,273
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Annie Dillard has written twelve books,including in nonfiction For the Time Being, Teaching a Stone to Talk, Holy the Firm, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Living 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
nbNYC More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book after seeing that Dillard had written a review of the book I had just finished reading--John Mathiessen's Shadow County, a book that is an intense, complex, and thoroughly satisfying read. I am about a third of the way through The Living and something is bothering me. It's not the quality of the writing. Dillard writes beautifully and eloquently and the story she tells is compelling, but there is a detachment from the characters that prevents the reader from becoming thoroughly engaged in the narrative. The bottom line is that I just don't care about any of the characters; I don't feel invested in them in any way. It's good storytelling but storytelling that does not get under your skin. I heard Joyce Carol Oates speak recently about how she has tried to include more dialogue (and less description) in her novels. This book has very little dialogue which I think contributes to how distanced one feels as a reader. It's the antithesis of someone like Cormac McCarthy whose dialogue reels you in and twists your heart or Harriet Simpson Arnow (The Dollmaker) whose pitch-perfect characters haunt you days after finishing one of her novels. I was hoping for a heart-wrenching, gut-churning novel but so far am left feeling a bit empty. I will keep plugging away--maybe I just need to get further along in the book.......
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great. Annie Dillard is my queen. I thought that non-fiction was her specialty, but this book and Maytrees prove that she can still leave you breathless even in a fictional setting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Looking for background information before a vacation to the Pacific Northwest, I happened upon this novel that reads as fiction, yet also as history. A year or so after our vacation to the Seattle area, I reread the book...I never do that!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a 'Must Read' for any Western American, or Easterner for that matter. I only think that being from the Pacific Northwest made it even better. Annie Dillard is the real thing folks! I's 12 years old and still on the top of my Best Book list...and I read everything.
Gwendydd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think the biggest reason that I enjoyed this book is that I live in Seattle, so I am familiar with the areas in which it takes place, and can appreciate how much this area has changed in the past 150 years. The book really made me think about the first white settlers who came out here, and how hard their lives were, yet how rewarding the landscape could be for them, as it is for me.On the downside, the book is at time gruesome and depressing - life was hard for these people, and Dillard doesn't spare us any of the grief or gore. Sometimes I didn't really understand the characters and their feelings. The plot line doesn't really follow a conflict-resolution trajectory: it is just a continuing saga of a few generations of Puget Sound's first settlers, and as such the plot wasn't very satisfying. Closer to real life, perhaps, but there was never a sense of resolution. Dillard's writing is very rewarding.
Cygnus555 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book shortly after I moved to Bellingham Washington... It was a really great novel that made me really understand how difficult the early settlers had it. I was shocked and dismayed by the huge numbers of people who died horrible deaths in this book.
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been told that this is not Annie Dillard's best work. Nevertheless, there are things about it that I really like, and some things I find less appealing. First, I love the atmospherics in the book. Her description of Western Washington in the 1850's, when the book begins are right on, and give a great period flavor. The dark, dripping forest, the damp days, make the setting feel almost primeval. Unfortunately, I'm less fond of the plot--particularly at the end of the book, when it sort of degenerates into a big whodunit. Who cares. I liked this book but you have to take the good with the bad.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dillard's prose is wonderfully descriptive and delightfully crafted; this is a fabulous work.
rachelellen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is not a book through which you race along. It took me a full month to read it, I think. It's very dense, very solid, full of similes that make you think, and situations that make you cringe or cry or laugh or shudder. There's not much of a plot, which in this instance is OK, because the focus of the story is on the people and on the place in which they live and on the nature of life there. You get a definite sense in the first half of the book of the apparent randomness of death on the 19th-century Northwestern U.S. frontier, and the second half goes more into life in a boom town and the way the ups and downs of that kind of existence affect the characters. I'm making it sound very dull, but it's not; the writing is lyrical and thoughtful and very, very good.
Mare Tracy More than 1 year ago
so much insight into change over a passage of time. my favorite all time book. read it without hesitation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago