By Jay Parini
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Extra info for American Writers, Supplement VI
This work, parts of which were published in the Atlantic and Harper's, generated immediate attention and ultimately came together in a booklength essay, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 1975. Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, her first book of poetry, was published the same year. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek became a Book-of-theMonth Club selection; its wide distribution and recognition in reviews made Dillard an instant celebrity. " When the book was being completed, Dillard's marriage to Richard Dillard was in the process of breaking up, and the couple divorced in 1975.
It's rough out there and chancy," she acknowledges, but then describes the deliberate, wings'-folded drop and last-minute graceful landing of a mockingbird, concluding "that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. " This first section of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, "Heaven and Earth in Jest," embodies a number of Dillard's characteristic conceptual, imagistic, and vocal gestures. First, she repeatedly poses the question of being's paradoxes. In An American Childhood, she sees one night from a window a neighboring Catholic girl from a working-class family illumined magically under a street lamp, skating on the icy street; the next morning, the girl reappears in her ordinary school uniform.
260-269. DeCurtis, Anthony. " Rolling Stone 17 (November 1988): 113-122, 164. Howard, Gerald. " Hungry Mind Review 43:13-16 (fall 1997). LeClair, Tom. " In Anything Can Happen: Interviews with Contempo- rary American Novelists. Edited by Tom LeClair and Larry McCaffery. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983. Pp. 79-90. Nadotti, Maria. " Salmagundi 100:86-97 (fall 1993). Passaro, Vince. " New York Times Magazine, May 19, 1991, pp. 36ff. Remnick, David. " New Yorker, September 15, 1997, pp. 42-48.
American Writers, Supplement VI by Jay Parini