Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Maytrees and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

I really love Annie Dillard’s prose. Lyrical, poetic, and sensuous are too weak to fully describe her style. Her new novel, The Maytrees is one of those stories that drops the reader right onto Cape Cod, into Provincetown, and on the beach in a “clam shack.” I imagine the “shack” as the characters call it, to be like the clam shacks that dot the Jersey shore on the mainland and the bay side of the barrier islands. I spent many years down there, and I still hanker to be nearer the ocean, or at least the Gulf of Mexico. There is something about the sounds, the smell of salt spray, the sun, the breeze off the ocean that is mystical and magical. Dillard takes me right back to those childhood days on the boardwalks and beaches of South Jersey.
I must admit, however, that some (a few, not too many) sentences seemed tortured and forced me to re-read to parse out the meaning. Those were like sudden waves that came crashing down without warning, few enough to be only a minor distraction.
This book also inspired me to re-read Annie Dillard’s classic Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I read this many years ago, but recently discovered I had lost my copy. I am glad I replaced so I had it within easy reach. I find this the best part of buying and keeping, lots of books, right?
If you don’t know Dillard, start with Pilgrim, go onto to A Writer’s Life, then dive into Maytrees. You won’t be disappointed, and I think you will find a new favorite author.
--Chiron, 9/29/07

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