To animate a fairy tale. What a neat trick. Maybe I should try it one day. Take a worn narrative and embellish it with human details. The narrative is often the same: we think things will go one way but suddenly they veer in another direction, and then things are hard, and then things are ok, and then there’s the possibility, again, that things could be good. It would be nice if this worn structure were the structure of life. But maybe it’s only the narrative of fairy tales...
The wilderness of Alaska and all the characters in Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child grow on you slowly as the book progresses. Alaska is bleak and dark. The characters are at first selfish and depressingly isolated psychologically and emotionally from one another; it’s an almost unbearable mood of depression that pervades the slow first section of the book.
Good thing the mysterious snow child enters the picture quickly. I don’t think I could have handled any more gloom and misery. The child changes the narrative about the place, as well as the characters’ narratives about their own lives, and she brings a lightness and mystery to the book. You find yourself entranced, as the couple becomes with the child, with the place, the story, the old couple. If you can get through the dreary details and trudging pace of the first section, it becomes a page turner halfway through the book.
Fiction, art, are a means of escape from life. Fairy tales charm us with their magic, their simplicity. Fiction likewise takes the reader out of her world, good stories trapping her for a while in a happy, sad, magical, but at the very least, otherworldly place. Thank god for stories and their ability to absorb the entire mind and engage the imagination. The mind and the imagination could otherwise go on a destructive, ruinous rampage.