Holy the Firm is a 1977 work by essayist Annie Dillard, best known as the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The book is a short work, around 80 pages in the paperback edition that I have. The work is an extended essay about nature, God and suffering.

The book starts with a poetic treatment of her home in the Puget Sound region, and then deals with the aftereffects of a single engine airplane crash. In the crash, a young girl is burned badly, and Dillard tries to cope with the emotional and theological issues.

For me, the book does not work. Dillard's prose is florid and sweeping, to say the least. I can't rightly describe the full flow of her prose, but it tends to mix minutiae of the natural world together with theological and philosophical speculation. While I don't want to doubt that Dillard is doing an honest job at trying to deal with what she writes about, to me, the tragic event of a child getting seriously burnt does not need complicated literary prose to explain the horrendousness of it. For me, the philosophical and literary tone, which does not seem to arrive at a conclusion, distracts, rather than describes, the issues that Dillard is trying to deal with.

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