Sunday, January 13, 2008

"They acted in only two small events--

--three, if love counts."
I have been in love with the writing of Annie Dillard since i first picked up a boyfriend's An American Childhood and couldn't put it down. That being said, it is probably not all that surprising that i adored The Maytrees, though i often found myself having to reread passages (sometimes for their lyrical qualities, sometimes to make sure i understood them, sometimes because i was pretty sure i didn't understand them in the least... i'm just dense that way...) Reading this book was often like wading through poetry (perhaps appropriate because one of the main characters is a poet), and, like poetry, i found it quite worth the effort.
The first few paragraphs of the prologue are like a very brief summary of the first one hundred pages of a James Michener (a favorite of my youth) novel (if that's not some kind of oxymoron); in fact the prologue itself is almost like an encapsulated novel (though not this novel encapsulated).
Toby Maytree falls in love with his future wife, Lou Bigelow, at first sight (in fact he almost mistakes her for Ingrid Bergman.) Lou takes a little longer to be smitten with him (though not by much, and not any less so, it would seem.) This spare novel encompasses their marriage and life (though their life is not always a life led together) and it is a rather solitary tale, one that is as related to the sea as the Maytrees' lives seem to be (and doesn't a life interconnected to the saline world of the sea and shore almost seem to be one more connected to the being of ourselves?)
The fact that Dillard is a naturalist shines through in this work. This is a novel almost reminiscent of another time, another place~but one well worth revisiting. This is a novel not to be missed. There doesn't seem to be a word wasted or out of place. I have not lost my love for Annie (she is still on my mind.)
I had a few quibbles with things that seemed like they might be missed editing errors (or perhaps Dillard forgetting things like what age Lou and Toby and Deary were supposed to be at certain times) but i'm also willing to concede that the fault might lie with me (it's been known to happen...)

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