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Hosford 1 Caitlind Hosford King English 8 April 2014 From Backyard Painter to WorldFamous Writer Annie Dillard was born on April 30, 1945 as Meta Ann Doak in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.She was pushed by her high school teachers and attended Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia. Sometime in her first two years at school she met Richard Dillard, who she would be engaged to marry her sophomore year of college.
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Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! She was a scholar-in-residence at Western Washington University in Bellingham from 1975 to 1978 and on the faculty of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, from 1980 to 2002, when she retired as professor emerita.
The birds just decorate the essay, give us something natural to look at. I saw swifts mate in midair.” On they come, bird, tree, metaphor.
At least the birds mate in midair: the tree metaphor’s half-dead.
Even in “The Stunt Pilot,” (BAE 1990) an essay about just that, with no shortage of insane airborne acrobatics and dramatic maneuvers, it’s only a matter of time until we arrive at her tropes: “The Bellingham airport was a wide clearing in a forest of tall Douglas firs,” “something caught my eye and made me laugh.
It was a swallow, a blue-green swallow, having its own air show.” At least 1982’s “Total Eclipse,” one of her best-known essays, gets it out of the way early, on the second page: “the trees changed, and in the trees were strange birds.” I admit that some of her bird descriptions are less boring than others: “He examined the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to the throat.
For starters, avoiding Annie Dillard means avoiding the swarms of Annie Dillard supplicants, “infant sea turtle[s]…running down the beach and into the surf through a gauntlet of hungry ghost crabs, screeching seagulls, swarming and greedy stonefish, hagfish, devilfish, lampreys, manta rays, giant clams, and eggheaded walleyed eight-armed ink-spreading octopodes. Annie Dillard probably has something to tell me about my dying cat, but I don’t want to hear it.
Those that survive this initial run for the open sea live to become adult sea turtles, armored and invulnerable giants—literature.” I quote Edward Abbey whom I’ve vowed never to quote. But you can be pretty sure that something probably involves a tree, a walk, or a bird.
It is unclear why she writes so much about death because she had not experienced death close to her when she was writing.
Dillard was born in 1945, a very important year in America. The 50’s were marked by the red scare, Elvis, conservative yet social people, and the Korean War.