The Snow Queen
The Snow Queen is a new novella from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham. It’s a poignant and subtle examination of the connections people make between themselves, strangers and higher powers.
After being dumped by his boyfriend, Barrett Meeks is walking home through Central Park when he looks up at the sky and sees a light in the sky that seems above the ordinary, that seems to be speaking to his soul. Meanwhile, his older brother, Tyler, struggles to write a song for his fiancé Beth who is dying of cancer. Barrett turns to religion and Tyler follows drugs as they try to make sense of mortality and inevitability.
The novel is well written, a slow-burning, poetic account of a group of lost souls living in New York. I enjoyed it, as it has some moments in the book which do, in true Michael Cunningham style, take your breath away with how accurately they sum up the human condition. It’s a tragic-comedy, with tender moments contrasting the banal, boring and often overlooked moments in life. I love his style of writing, which is soft and poetic and very reminiscent of The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.
I wish the book was a little longer, (it’s a slim 250ish pages) as I think having more space would have allowed a more definite conclusion for the main characters, and to make the supporting cast of lay about friends feel more like defined and rounded characters instead of ghosts. The ending could have been stronger, but the whole thing just drifts along like snow. I like that it is in the style of The Hours, but where The Hours had a true conclusion and a deep impact on the characters that provoked the reader, I felt that The Snow Queen lacked the drive to push its characters to extremes. It’s good if you want a poignant and thoughtful piece of high literature, but not one that is emotionally exhausting. That being said, The Snow Queen is a short and sweet read from a truly accomplished author.
The Snow Queen will be available in-store and online on May 5th.