Monday, June 08, 2009

The Maytrees

I read The Maytrees by Annie Dillard last night.  Really fast read.  It's an odd little story about a marriage, its development and its sort of breakup, and how people can find each other again, with the oddest broken boned death request I've ever read.  Which really shows courage in trusting your characters to be themselves.

The thing that struck me most wasn't about actual plot, because I'm not one for love triangles, especially when one or more of the triad doesn't see the wreckage caused.  The neat thing I noticed was the lack of dialogue.  There really isn't much at all.  The inner life of the characters move the story forward and it works.  That really surprises me because most writing advice says to use dialogue to achieve movement and momentum in the story.  And since I have such a hard time writing dialogue, this was a pleasant breath of fresh air for me.  It can be done, and done very well.  The prose is lovely, and the images and the tone are too.  It reads much more like poetry.  Dialogue just isn't needed.  It's as if Dillard so fills the story with the story and the words of the story, that talking about it (silence and talking are huge themes in this story) wouldn't do much.  Lou, the wife, is a silent women and treasures that for herself.  Her husband, Maytree known by his last name), is a poet.  Not much for the talking either and doesn't mind a bit that his wife is quiet.  The unspoken things as is said.

I have mixed feelings about the actual plot, but the execution was just marvelous.  It gives me courage for my less than dialogue filled stories. 


  1. I feel like McEwan does this well, too. I mean, he writes plenty of dialogue ... but the stories tend to move along from inside the characters' minds.

    I haven't read a Dillard novel in ages. Her essays are so poetic as well. Savor-y.

  2. I think I had read essays before, but so many people recommended her novels, I thought I'd give it a try. Was enjoyable.