Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Books now read in ’07: 73
Title: The Maytrees
Author: Annie Dillard
Genre: Fiction
Date Completed: 7-17
Pages: 216

I wanted to like this thin, awkward novel – the first by Annie Dillard in more than a decade – but could not. Ultimately, it is too slight, too opaque and, at times, to much like a writer’s notebook than a polished work to be truly satisfying.

Words like pauciloquoys, (which I think is spelled wrong. I think pauciloquy was intended, which means brevity of speech), thigmotropic (a biological term meaning 'oriented growth of an organism in response to mechanical contact, as a plant tendril coiling around a string support', which could be extended to mean “fond of touch”), and epistomeliac (I don’t know, I really don’t) had me cringing.

As do sentences such as: “So might a seeing white statue, aware and at ease, over whose feet and plinth wash wild seas, guard a greasy harbor.” I don’t know what that sentence means – standing alone or in context. Is there a context?

The atmosphere is compelling and the setting vivid, but the narrative (in keeping with the novel’s themes) is a shipwreck, run aground on the thinness of Dillard’s prose, which wants to be poetry, and which can’t support the weight of her philosophical musings on mortality and love. A beautiful story is lost in sentences that twist and turn and never emerge into a consistent coherent whole.

No comments:

Post a Comment