Only the luminous writing of someone as gifted as Annie Dillard could render the coal industry town of Pittsburg so charmingly. In this quintessentially American book, Dillard captures the pain of growing up. Born into family wealth, she led a privileged childhood among large homes, shady streets, very wealthy grandparents, private school - and a very close and loving family.
It's easy to sense that Dillard's mother was the primary force in her childhood, a woman of formidable interests and energies, questing curiosity, and the determination that her 3 daughters would not grow up as nothing more than the narrow-minded results of too much money and pampering. Dillard was certainly brilliant as a young child, focused and single-minded in her interest-du-jour; that her parents provided her the wherewithal to indulge her fascination with art, nature, music, and writing turns out to have been a gift to us all.
But Pittsburg? Yes, Annie Dillard makes it a place I just might look forward to visiting some day - and that, alone, is a testament to her powers.