Maytrees: Not the Tree with the Lights In It

I’ve heard eight and I’ve heard ten as the number of years Annie Dillard took to get “The Maytrees” to publication.

And I read that it is the same simultaneously obscure and perfectly clear Dillard her readers have grown used to in this new love-story fiction. It gets mixed reviews, understanding that reviewers can’t be unfailingly gushing with praise or they lose their cred. And you did get the feeling sometimes AD would be better off with the simplest word for the purpose rather than the most obscure–though I rather like to wrinkle my brow, say “huh?” and run off to learn a new word that I will never, ever use.

I ordered the book today at least in part because it has been so long since hearing her voice. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek from the 70s I can still hear echoing in my head. If I can get one or two persistent mental images like those from Maytrees, they will be in good company.

Two reviews–from the NYTimes, and one from Slate. Plus you can read the first chapter.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I read Annie’s earlier books too, thanks to an elderly aunt who surprised me with a package of her well-worn, marked-up- favorite books. What a treasure! Still have them.

    I wonder if Dillard’s new book means we won’t be getting any more of the old style out of her. I’ll miss her unique take on the world, but I’m sure she’ll find a way to weave it into her fiction.