Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Maytrees

For a book about love, it's kind of a downer. There are too many exquisite lines to put this into a "waste of time" category, but as a whole, I can't claim this to be a favorite.

What I enjoyed was Dillard's ability to put a unique feel to common experiences. For instance, when Maytree looked at his wife, she wrote, "After their first year or so, Lou's beauty no longer surprised him. He never stopped looking, because her face was his eyes' home."

"That he did not possess her childhood drove him wild. Who was this impostor she sang with in college -- how dare he?"

Here's a good one:
"A woman's forgiveness weakened a man's arms and back. So did its sob sister, pity. It would not stand up to fight. Who could prevail against it?"

This one is my favorite:
"Often she missed infant Petie now gone -- his random gapes, his bizarre buttocks. How besotted they gazed at each other nose-on-nose. He fit her arms as if they two had invented how to carry a baby.....She imagined joining picnic tables outside by the beach and setting them for 22 Peties and Petes, or 122, or however greedy she was that day and however divisible Pete. Together the sons at every age and size -- scented with diaper, formula on rubber nipples, bike grease, wax crayon...waited for dinner. Who else knew what each liked? It was a hell of a long table. She gave herself a minute to watch them -- Petie after Petie barefoot near his future self and past. They pinched and teased or shoved one another. What mother would not want to see her kids again?"

Now normally I do not give a lot of quotes for a book review. I can't really explain why I did with this particular book, other than I liked these individual lines better than the book as a whole. I confess that I've always had a slight prejudice against east coasters. I don't know exactly why. Again, I like almost all of the individuals I've met, but as a whole, there is a superiority they perceive in themselves in regards to their intellect, experience and perspective that I find irritating. These characters and their beachfront way of life irritated me. Their attitudes towards marriage, parenting, etc. frustrated me. I don't know if it was the author's own bias that tainted them, or if it really was isolated to these particular characters, but the choices they made did not match the consequences I felt each choice deserved.

But who am I to say what should befall the fallen? All I can say is I felt unsatisfied at the end. And a little bit like none of it mattered.

Wow. This was a really bad book review. Sorry.

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