The Times Literary Supplement offers “Best Books of 2009” picks from a smattering of contributors, including Julian Barnes and Ali Smith.
“The striking thing about her search for God is that she sometimes finds him. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’s second chapter, after a kind of introduction, is titled ‘Seeing.’ There are two kinds, she explains. The common variety is active, where you strain, against the running babble of internal monologue, to pay attention to what’s actually in front of you. But, she tells us, ‘there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go.’ You do not seek, you wait. It isn’t prayer; it is grace. The visions come to you, and they come from out of the blue.” On Annie Dillard’s turn to silence.
“Whenever I tried to invent a character or a situation, I felt a stab of guilt. I could hear my teacher’s quavering voice saying, Write what you know! Why had she insisted on this so vociferously?” Writing class mantras are easy to impart but they are also easily misinterpreted. A.X. Ahmad, author of The Last Taxi Ride and The Caretaker, learns this truth the hard way as he tries to become a writer following a personal upheaval. Pair with Ahmad’s Millions essay on “The Thriller, Reinvented.”