Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I really like kaleidoscopes. I love the "oh" moment when I am looking through the viewer and the combination of color and light and pattern are just right and my heart is filled with a tiny jump of joy. Then, inevitably, my hand shakes and then colors are mixed up again and I know that I will never have that same moment ever again. Sometimes I pick up a cheaply made kaleidoscope and take a peak through the viewer and find that the colors are muddy. Whether this is because the colored pebbles are too dark, not enough light is able to enter the chamber or the quality of the mirrors inside are poor, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that what I see isn't that great to look at. Every once in a while, though, even with the poorest of kaleidoscopes, I get an "oh" moment.
That's how I felt while reading "The Maytree's" by Annie Dillard. I felt as though there were so many words, so densely packed onto each page, that no light could shine through. The plot and character development felt thick and muddy. It was like looking through a poorly made kaleidoscope. That is not to say that I felt that "The Maytrees" was poorly crafted, quite the opposite in fact. It is obvious that Dillard spent a great deal of time and effort choosing each word she used in this novel. It is extraordinarily crafted. And every once in a while, I would catch a combination of words so lovely, so beautifully chosen, that I would have that "oh" moment that I do so love.