Ninety miles north of Seattle on the Washington coast lies Bellingham Bay, where a rough settlement founded in the 1850s would become the town of Whatcom. Here, the Lummi and Nooksack Indian people fish and farm, hermits pay their debts in sockeye salmon, and miners track gold-bearing streams.
Here, too, is the intimate, murderous tale of three men. Clare Fishburn believes that greatness lies in store for him. John Ireland Sharp, an educated orphan, abandons hope when he sees socialists expel the Chinese workers from the region. Beal Obenchain, who lives in a cedar stump, threatens Clare Fishburn’s life.
A killer lashes a Chinese worker to a wharf piling at low tide. Settlers pour in to catch the boom the railroads bring. People give birth, drown, burn, inherit rich legacies, and commit expensive larcenies. All this takes place a hundred years ago, when these vital, ruddy men and women were “the living”.
Annie Dillard is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and numerous other works of nonfiction, including An American Childhood and For the Time Being. Her novels include The Living and, most recently, The Maytrees.
©1992 Annie Dillard (P)1993 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“An invigorating, intricate first novel…. An august celebration of human frenzy and endurance…. Annie Dillard [shows a] tremendous gift for writing in a genuinely epic mode.” (New York Times)
“The kind of book a reader sinks into completely….The characters are so compelling, the setting so detailed, so convincing, so absolutely complete…. The Living is an extraordinary accomplishment, one of those rare occasions when the written word results through the magic and talent of the author in the creation of the whole world.” (Boston Sunday Globe)
“An impressive piece of fiction and a riveting hunk of history…. The many readers who have been drawn in the past to Dillard’s work for its elegant and muscular use of language won’t be disappointed in these pages…. She has given herself a landscape large enough to challenge her talents.” (Los Angeles Times)
I came to love the characters, and Dillard's exacting descriptions.
She made me feel I could see and touch the Pacific Northwest, it was real and true.
No, but she did a fine job on this.
It started slowly for me but I kept on--I was confused by so many characters. So glad I kept with it!
I remember Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek and hoped this book with give me as much joy as as that one did. I lasted till 1/2 way through the second download and couldn't bear another minute of it. There are too many characters, too many odd names, too many generations and too many stories to tackle in one book. Although the years sped by in this book, the story did not. Nothing ever seemed to be resolved and there was not much to keep my interested. I am obviously among the few who did not enjoy this book. I gave it a go and figure my time is more valuable than being able to say I finished this!
This outstanding book works beautifully on three fronts. The history of Bellingham Bay is gripping from start to finish. The writing is beautiful, even poetic at times. Dillard provides so many perspectives on her investigation of life and death by threading this main theme beautifully through all of the stories and all of the characters. Wonderfully and brilliantly done.
I am also glad to have been introduced to Grace Conlin as a narrator. From the playful parts of the book to the grimly serious sections to the philosophical side spurs, she brought out the mood of the book very well.
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