Mark Helprin's 1983 novel Winter's Tale is a poetic-prose dreamscape:
- comic, like Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat ...
- fantastic, like Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn ...
- gritty-sharp-edged, like Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren and Nova ...
- animalistic like Richard Adams's Shardik ...
- moralistic, like George Eliot's Middlemarch ...
- rich in imagery, like Henry Taylor's poem "After a Movie" ...
- magical, like Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children ...
- apocalyptic, like Mordor in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings ...
... and silly, philosophical, thick, and a host of other things all at once. Winter's Tale is Tarot-like in its archetypal absolutes. It deals a surrealistic Major Arcana in an array:
Meaning? Hard to say. Winter's Tale is also a story without an ending, or maybe with so many endings that they melt into a muddle-puddle. As the chapter "Battery Bridge" begins:
From either madness, truth, or charm, Peter Lake, listening hard, thought that he could hear the coming of the future in his machines. Cockeyed and still, directing all his attention to their sermons, he stood before them like a climber who has made some glorious peak. Their hoots, screams, and singing, like the static of the nebulae, enticed him deep into a confusing jungle of dimensionless sound and light. From the darkness, jaguars' eyes without jaguars glowed and circled in symmetrical orbits as red as rubies. On infinite meadows in the black, creatures made of misty light tossed their manes in motionless eternal swings that passed through the stars like wind sweeping through wildflowers.
That's as good a plot summary of Winter's Tale as any. No matter: it's a book worth reading, or more precisely, a journey worth living. The 2014 movie tries to distill it down to a two-hour experience, and fails, the ponderous voiceover a distracting echo of Stranger Than Fiction's narrator, the poetic quotes a bridge of snowflakes that collapses without context, the special-effect rainbows a flat parody of visions that can't be shown. No matter!
^z - 2014-10-24