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.