Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a 1974 nonfiction narrative book by American author Annie Dillard. Told from a first-person point of view, the book details an unnamed narrator's explorations near her home, and various contemplations on nature and life. The title refers to Tinker Creek, which is outside Roanoke in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Dillard began writing Pilgrim in the spring of 1973, using her personal journals as inspiration. Separated into four sections that signify each of the seasons, the narrative takes place over the period of one year.
The book records the narrator's thoughts on solitude, writing, and religion, as well as scientific observations on the flora and fauna she encounters. Touching upon themes of faith, nature, and awareness, Pilgrim is also noted for its study of theodicy and the inherent cruelty of the natural world. The author has described it as a "book of theology", and she rejects the label of nature writer. Dillard considers the story a "single sustained nonfiction narrative", although several chapters have been anthologized separately in magazines and other publications. The book is analogous in design and genre to Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854), the subject of Dillard's master's thesis at Hollins College. Critics often compare Dillard to authors from the Transcendentalist movement; Edward Abbey in particular deemed her Thoreau's "true heir".
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was published by Harper's Magazine Press shortly after Dillard's first book, a volume of poetry titled Tickets for a Prayer Wheel. Since its initial publication, Pilgrim has been lauded by critics. It won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction, and in 1998 it was included in Modern Library's list of 100 Best Nonfiction Books.
Famous quotes containing the words pilgrim, tinker and/or creek:
“The Museum is not meant either for the wanderer to see by accident or for the pilgrim to see with awe. It is meant for the mere slave of a routine of self-education to stuff himself with every sort of incongruous intellectual food in one indigestible meal.”
—Gilbert Keith Chesterton (18741936)
“The artist is the opposite of the politically minded individual, the opposite of the reformer, the opposite of the idealist. The artist does not tinker with the universe; he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.”
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“The only law was that enforced by the Creek Lighthorsemen and the U.S. deputy marshals who paid rare and brief visits; or the two volumes of common law that every man carried strapped to his thighs.”
—State of Oklahoma, U.S. relief program (1935-1943)