Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Maytrees

I am through the first three chapters of Annie Dillard's new novel, The Maytrees (HarperCollins, 2007), which concerns the marriage of Toby Maytree and Lou Bigelow, and their life near Provincetown on Cape Cod.

The novel is spare and elegant and beautifully written. It is as if Dillard has constructed (and fully realized) a narrative based upon several old photographs, a half-remembered anecdote, a few love letters. You should read this book for its own qualities, of course, but if you have ever wondered how the skills of a poet (compression, lyricism, philosophical speculation, acute observations about the natural world) might successfully be brought to bear upon the form of a novel, this book will particularly reward your attention.

I find it impossible to read anything as a "reader" anymore. These days I read as a "writer." I am always asking "Why did the author do that?" or "What is the purpose of telling only so much--of this inclusion, or that ellipse?" I remember being pleased with myself, and also appalled, when I first understood that I was reading this way.

I do still love the word "book." The word "book" is a holy word, a beautiful word. "Text" is a word for theorists and anxious graduate students, not a word for writers.


I did manage to get all my writing-business work completed this week. The last of it went into the mail this morning. Hooray. I always find that so dreary.


Blogger Talia said...

I saw this book at B&N today. Strange. I usually stick to the bargain sections, the magazine stands and the poetry section, but for some reason this book was calling out to me and I was pulled over to it. I didn't buy it, though. I just can't pay full price for a book...that would be compulsive.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I picked up this book at the Provincetown Bookshop a few days ago, just because it felt so appropriate to buy it there. I'm looking forward to reading it.

10:04 PM  

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