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Maytrees by Annie Dillard
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Maytrees (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Annie Dillard

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897399,849 (3.49)51
Member:davejohnson
Title:Maytrees
Authors:Annie Dillard
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The Maytrees by Annie Dillard (2007)

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English (37)  Romanian (1)  French (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)

I live in awe of Annie Dillard's writing. While devouring much of her nonfiction, I consistently found my curiosity piqued at the one solitary novel (The Living) listed in the bibliography included in the front matter of each book I read. Last year I decided to satisfy that curiosity when I discovered a copy of The Living in a Vermont used bookstore. I was excited! How would Annie's writing style translate in fiction? I eagerly dove in and unfortunately was quickly disappointed. It's not that the writing was technically bad; it's more that I found myself desperately missing the poetry in Annie's nonfiction prose. How each short paragraph carries so much meaning, and the beauty in how she words what otherwise might be only a common phrase. I don't doubt that The Living is accurate historical fiction, but the story is just not that compelling. I struggled through about half of it before giving up. I then cleansed my reading palate by reading another of Annie's nonfiction gems.

Not surprisingly then, when I heard that Annie had a new book out and it was fiction, my reaction was rather subdued. Why fiction? Why not more of her rich yet airy stripped-down nonfiction prose? Nonetheless, I investigated the matter, and was at least pleased to find that The Maytrees was a much thinner volume than The Living. That way if I didn't like it, at least I might actually be able to say that I finished this one.

Well, what can I say? The book is a work of a truly great writer at the top of her game. It contains the best elements of her nonfiction writing seamlessly woven into a finely textured story of love and life. Of course nature plays a role, almost as a character unto itself, but never as the direct focal point, as it sometimes does in her nonfiction. Instead, she uses nature to truly connect her characters to their environment, making them seem that much more believable and realistic. It is an intensely human story, that exhibits the depth of knowledge and feeling that Annie has clearly absorbed through years of living and writing.

It has occurred to me before that maybe Annie's writing isn't for everyone. But for me, there are few writers who excel more in their command of the English language, and their ability to say so much in so few words, and so beautifully.
( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Arcane at best: Not having encountered this author previously, perhaps it was inevitable that there would be a learning curve, but the gradient surpassed anything expected. The author seems to be the master of the terse, difficult to comprehend word, phrase, sentence, etc. Characters are no more than a few fuzzy brush strokes. Scenarios, places, and plot are sketches and fragments at best. For what it's worth, the author admits to cutting her original page count from 1400 to the very generous count of just over 200 small pages. Perhaps prosaic readability went on the chopping block.

To those unfamiliar with this author, break out the dictionaries and other reference materials and be prepared to expend much effort in supplying meaning and context. To fans and highbrow reviewers, a tip of the hat to you who obviously have great powers of perception, if not tolerance.
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
I picked out this audio book completely at random, having never even heard of [author:Annie Dillard] before. (shame on me!) But what an excellent, poetic and thought-provoking exploration on what love is and what it means to live and love. Excellently written, too.

The beginning of the novel is a bit slow and descriptive, but stick with it! The story and characters will capture your attention.

This novel would make an excellent study for literature students, book clubs, and those reflecting on what it means to love, be in love, and live with love. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Apr 7, 2013 |
This is the first novel by Dillard I have read. It made me want to read more of her works. I liked the flow of her writing and the premise of the story. She manages to make the implausible seem reasonable. ( )
  DawsonOakes | Apr 6, 2013 |
I approached this book warily, as it's fiction, and I've always thought that Dillard was best at essays and inquiries into the natural world. I was prepared to be disappointed, but I was not prepared to be, as I was, blown away. This book is an astonishing, lambent, transcendent meditation on love, marriage and humanity. The story of Toby and Lou Maytree, and their friends and families, works on many different levels. The book is like a photo fussed over in Photoshop- layer after translucent layer, each coloring the whole delicately and almost imperceptibly. Every word drops into place with a feeling of inevitability, so well crafted is this novel. Highly recommended. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
At times, "The Maytrees" acts like vintage Dillard: It contains gorgeous, meticulous descriptions of the outdoors that springboard into the Platonic ether, into meditations on devotion, loss, and time. But the book does not reach as far into the clouds, or linger there as long, as Dillard's earlier work did. Her philosophical impulses are present, but they are moored to a linear narrative, and made to spring more or less logically from the minds and actions of flesh-and-blood characters. The result is one of the most lucid and effective books Dillard has ever produced.
 
The Maytrees, Dillard’s second attempt at the form, is composed of equal parts human detail, sweeping landscape, and commonplace book musings on the role of love in life. It sounds like a good combination—and the book has some fine moments—but she doesn’t cook her ingredients.
 
Now in “The Maytrees,” her second novel and a shimmering meditation on the ebb and flow of love, Ms. Dillard has created the sort of narrative that will have acolytes moaning low.
 
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For C. R. Clevidence
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The Maytrees were young long ago.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061239534, Hardcover)

Toby Maytree first sees Lou Bigelow on her bicycle in postwar Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her laughter and loveliness catch his breath. Maytree is a Provincetown native, an educated poet of thirty. As he courts Lou, just out of college, her stillness draws him. Hands-off, he hides his serious wooing, and idly shows her his poems.

In spare, elegant prose, Dillard traces the Maytrees' decades of loving and longing. They live cheaply among the nonconformist artists and writers that the bare tip of Cape Cod attracts. When their son Petie appears, their innocent Bohemian friend Deary helps care for him. But years later it is Deary who causes the town to talk.

In this moving novel, Dillard intimately depicts willed bonds of loyalty, friendship, and abiding love. She presents nature's vastness and nearness. Warm and hopeful, The Maytrees is the surprising capstone of Dillard's original body of work.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Toby Maytree first sees Lou Bigelow on her bicycle in postwar Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her laughter and loveliness catch his breath. Maytree is a Provincetown native, an educated poet of thirty. As he courts Lou, just out of college, her stillness draws him. Hands-off, he hides his serious wooing, and idly shows her his poems. Dillard traces the Maytrees' decades of loving and longing. They live cheaply among the nonconformist artists and writers that the bare tip of Cape Cod attracts. Lou takes up painting. When their son Pete appears, their innocent Bohemian friend Deary helps care for him. These people are all loving, and ironic. As Dillard intimately depicts nature's vastness and nearness, she presents willed bonds of loyalty, friendship, and abiding love.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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