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AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD by Annie Dillard (Harper & Row: $7.95)

September 11, 1988|ELENA BRUNET

Harper and Row's paperback imprint has just released a complete collection of Annie Dillard's work, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," a book of poems, "Tickets for a Prayer Wheel," and, her most recent, "An American Childhood."

In "An American Childhood," Annie Dillard describes her own idyllic childhood. Her father shows her the power of the imagination: After consuming Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi," he boards his boat in Pittsburgh en route to New Orleans and Dixieland.

Her mother, imaginative, kind, sprinkles her speech with quaint expressions; she teaches the three girls to curtsy--and to play poker.

Dillard's tales, from childhood until her departure for college, are told with humor and a lyrical charm. As Cyra McFadden wrote in these pages, "Nostalgic without being wistful, this is a book about the capacity for joy."

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