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New York City is subsumed in arctic winds dark nights and white lights its life unfolds for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination the greatest house ever built and nothing exists that can check its vitality One night in winter Peter Lake orphan and master mechanic attempts to rob a fortress like mansion on the Upper West SideThough he thinks the house is empty the daughter of the house is home Thus begins the love between Peter Lake a middle aged Irish burglar and Beverly Penn a young girl who is dyingPeter Lake a simple uneducated man because of a love that at first he does not fully understand is driven to stop time and bring back the dead His great struggle in a city ever alight with its own energy and besieged by unprecedented winters is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature

10 thoughts on “Winter's Tale

  1. says:

    I have no doubt that there are worse works of fiction in existence but this is the worst one I've read It is written for people who like the sound of language in their head who want to feel long streams of words washing over them Judging by the popularity and success of this author and others like Proulx there are a lot of those people But it's a terribly low standard that in this case gives us page after page of constructions like this Across the river was an eighteenth century knoll with trees standing upon it like peasant women with arms akimbo and the spotlight of the sun firing their green tops while black shadows below suggested a grove of infinite proportions Disregard the grammar What makes a tree covered knoll an 18th century one? How on Earth can trees look like women with their hands on their hips and their elbows out? Groves are by definition small if it looks infinite don't call it a grove I swear I'm not being unfair in my quotation picking Before writing this review I flipped back through the book at random finding some ludicrously juvenile word dumps every time I stopped Hilariously you don't need to take my word for it because this kind of self indulgence draws attention to itself Mark Helprin fans actually post little collections of individual sentences as testaments to his greatness Can you imagine doing that with Steinbeck? Hemingway? Faulkner? Would that be the way to capture their greatness? Ironically then Helprin's fans — and many professional critics — like him for the very reasons I think he's awful the construction of individual sentences draw attention to themselves which is particularly convenient if you're writing a newspaper book review and they are intent on being evocative as an end in itself — a kind of Platonic evocativeness But evocative of what? Well what does an eighteenth century knoll mean to you?