First Edition of Annie Dillard's An American Childhood; The Author's Own Copy
An American Childhood.
Item Number: 1746
New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1987.
First edition of Dillard’s poignant, vivid memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Octavo, original cloth, pictorial endpapers. The author’s own copy with her personal bookplate. Signed by Annie Dillard on the title page. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Lynn Dreese Breslin.
Annie Dillard remembers. She remembers the exhilaration of whipping a snowball at a car and having it hit straight on. She remembers playing with the skin on her mother's knuckles, which "didn't snap back; it lay dead across her knuckle in a yellowish ridge." She remembers the compulsion to spend a whole afternoon (or many whole afternoons) endlessly pitching a ball at a target. In this intoxicating account of her childhood, Dillard climbs back inside her 5-, 10-, and 15-year-old selves with apparent effortlessness. The voracious young Dillard embraces headlong one fascination after another--from drawing to rocks and bugs to the French symbolists. "Everywhere, things snagged me," she writes. "The visible world turned me curious to books; the books propelled me reeling back to the world." From her parents she inherited a love of language--her mother's speech was "an endlessly interesting, swerving path"--and the understanding that "you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself," not for anyone else's approval or desire. And one would be mistaken to call the energy Dillard exhibits in An American Childhood merely youthful; "still I break up through the skin of awareness a thousand times a day," she writes, "as dolphins burst through seas, and dive again, and rise, and dive." "A remarkable work...an exceptionally interesting account" (New York Times).