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An American Childhood (1987)

av Annie Dillard

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,969306,281 (4.09)96
An autobiography describing the author's childhood and life in Pittburgh during the fifties.
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This memoir is beautifully conceived and written: Intense, vivid, at times hilarious. Since it was from the library, I transcribed sentence after sentence to my copybook but had to restrain myself. There are many keepers throughout.
For instance, here is the vivid way she captures what it is like to pass out of childhood: “the interesting things of the world engaged my loose mind like a gear” (35). The other end of her adolescence crescendoes in the closing chapters of the book; she seems a danger to herself and others. Again, I marveled at how she could, with a few deft strokes, capture so precisely this feeling I remembered all too well.
Once in a while, she uses a word in an unusual way, but correctly: “She held against a living-room window a curtain rod from which depended heavy, flower-print curtains” (60). Too much of that, and she would be showing off. As it is, there is just enough of it to convince me she is a great writer. Some of her favorite arcane words crop up more than once. The first time, I read on, since I more or less know what she’s saying. When it shows up again, I realize it behooves me to know what it means exactly, and I turn to the dictionary. For instance, sempiternal. I could guess that it combines Latin semper and aeternus; the result seems a tautology (always eternal?). It turns out it denotes a concept of everlasting time that can never come to pass. So I have to go back over her paragraph to see if she knows this, too. One is always safe to assume she does.
At times, though, my credulity was stretched. Dillard seems precociously aware of herself and the world around her. Her intense interests—rocks, bugs, World War Two, the parables of Jesus—and her ambition to remember everything. Did she really as a child have such a vivid sense of transience? Was she really able to divide her attention so that it was as if she was watching herself from above? It matters little. This is one of the best evocations of a consciousness growing from childhood to adolescence, making its personal thrust forth from Eden to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
At one point, Dillard writes: “I loved living at my own edge.” That, in a nutshell, is what the 255 pages of this account describe. This book is personal but not solipsistic; it is universal. It’s like a message in a bottle dropped in the ocean by someone almost painfully aware of what it means to live and afraid that others are missing out on the show. I’m glad it drifted up on shore where I was standing. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
American Child is about what it feels like to be alive and awake. Annie Dillard continues the passionate exploration of the interior life she began in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. She evokes childhood's vigor, clarity and keenness.
  PendleHillLibrary | Jun 17, 2021 |
This is an American childhood, if your family owned American Standard and had so much money that your father could throw over his job and decide he was going to boat down the Ohio River to New Orleans. However, Ms. Dillard isn't talking about her family's wealth - at least not centrally. She's mostly interested in describing the development of her mind.

As a young child she immerses herself in nature and books. Her mother takes her to the nearest branch of the Pittsburgh Public library which happens to be in an area of the city inhabited mostly by African-Americans. There she reads A Field Guide to Ponds multiple times and marvels at how many other patrons have done the same. in the summers she goes with her paternal grandparents to their summer home on Lake Erie where she further indulges her love of nature.

Her private school provides an excellent, if conventional education, but when puberty hits, Ms. Dillard's raging hormones get her in one scrape after another culminating in her arrest for taking part in a drag race with other teenagers. This results in a suspension from school, plus being sent to a rather strict girls' college. Throughout all of this, she never seems to question her fate. Maybe she doesn't want to, but with such a lively mind, it's a disappointment. ( )
  etxgardener | Feb 9, 2021 |
What do you rate when a fantastic author writes another great book, but it's not her best? Four stars, apparently. ( )
  nicholasjjordan | Nov 13, 2019 |
I have heard her name so often, she is referred to, and quoted so much. I finally read a book by her. I thought some of her passages were so well written and even poetic, while others rambled on a bit too much for me. There were several quotes I had to copy down and I will read more of her work. ( )
  carolfoisset | Jun 19, 2019 |
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for my parents Pam Lambert Doak and Frank Doak
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When everything else has gone from my brain--the President's name, the state capitals, the neighborhoods where I lived, and then my own name and what it was on earth I sought, and then at length the faces of my friends, and finally the faces of my family--when all this has dissolved, what will be left, I believe, is topology: the dreaming memory of land as it lay this way and that.
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An autobiography describing the author's childhood and life in Pittburgh during the fifties.

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Medelbetyg: (4.09)
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