For summer I favour books that can withstand the indignities of the season: beat-up paperbacks that can get stained by sunscreen, or library hardcovers in Brodart jackets that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. But I make exceptions for new books from a few specific authors, which is how Annie Dillard’s second novel, The Maytrees (HarperCollins) came to be on my summer reading list. Dillard describes her writing process for The Maytrees as a paring down to essentials, culminating in a revision so attentive to nuance that she was reconsidering syllables. The result is a distinctive style that is spare and unadorned; this is as close as a book can come to poetry and still be prose. Impatient readers may find the book difficult, but its origami sentences unfold beautifully when they are read at a slower pace. The style is perfectly suited to the novel’s setting: Provincetown, Massachusetts, a town situated on a sandy spit of land exposed to the wind and tides; sun, salt, and sea; and overlooked by stars. The main characters are of like physiology and temperament: Toby Maytree is lean and angular, a poet who produces infrequent volumes “so thin you could use them as shims”; Lou Bigelow is a sometime painter given to long silences leavened with a few well-considered words. The Maytrees is the story of Lou and Toby, who meet in postwar Provincetown and fall in love. Over the years that follow there is love and loss of love; there are vivid images and miniature epiphanies: Annie Dillard’s many fans will feel right at home.