Books: Godspells

HOLY THE FIRM by Annie Dillard Harper & Row; 76 pages; $6.50

There is a moment in Holy the Firm when Annie Dillard watches a candle flame consume a golden female moth. The moth's abdomen catches in the wet wax and her wings "ignited like tissue paper, enlarging the circle of light in the clearing." Her antennae crackle, her legs disappear and her body is reduced to a glowing shell. "And then," relates Dillard, "this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick ... She burned for two hours, until I blew her out."

The moth and the flame is an...

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