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The Snow Queen

3.05  ·  Rating details ·  5,431 Ratings  ·  919 Reviews
The Snow Queen, beautiful and heartbreaking, comic and tragic, proves again that Cunningham is one of the great novelists of his generation.

Michael Cunningham's luminous novel begins with a vision. It's November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published May 2014)
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Tristan It's hard to tell, but I don't think so--his goal is to understand, not to die.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
I could not and did not connect with this novel by one of my favorite contemporary writers. And the overuse of parentheticals (parentheticals everywhere) (and once a parenthetical following a parenthetical) (all much to my annoyance) was beyond distracting. Even so, stylistic quirks aside (annoying though they were) (annoyance being the overpowering effect of this slim volume), ain't much here to ponder or (in my case) enjoy.
May 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
Sigh. Does winning a Pulitzer Prize give you license to pen indulgent "literary" drivel, punctuated with showy vocabulary words and boring, navel-gazing, delusional characters who have mastered the art of the banal inner monologue? I tried very hard to get into this book, but then I remembered that life is fleeting and PRECIOUS and I could not justify wasting any more time than I already had listening to this nonsense, even if it WAS read to me by Claire Danes. In fact, the narration on the audi ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
One astronomical catastrophe!

Words that come to the forefront: wow, geez, ouch. And you must first remember that I am a HAaayuge! & devoted fan of Cunningham-- a complete Cunnilingulite in fact--and truly treasure at the very least three of his novels prior to, well, I somehow just really want to deviate from the writings/musings/rants on this "Saturday"esque failure. For some avid admirer, it really hurts.

But perhaps because the writer's tomes are mostly on the slim side, this constitutes
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
If The Hours is Cunningham's Virginia Woolf book (and it is) and Specimen Days has Walt Whitman as its guiding star (and it does, though thanks to the perception shown in my friend James Murphy's review, I was also able to view Whitman as a Dantean Virgil figure and now that I've since read The Divine Comedy, I see that more clearly), this is arguably Cunningham's Henry James book -- stylistically that is, with there not being much of a plot (though perhaps a very faint echo of The Wings of the ...more
Stephen P
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it

Michael Cunningham, author of The Pulitzer Prize winning The Hours, creates a story about the unseen in his current novel, The Snow Queen. Two brothers, not seen by their parents turn to each other to provide a closeness to commandeer a validation of their existence, worth. The plot is further complicated by the wife of one brother suffering over time from a terminal cancer. Bed-bound, she is seen. Carefully, she is ministered to providing her husband a sense of much sought for meaning in life,
Ron Charles
Jesus warned that only “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign,” but what if a miraculous sign flashes over your head? What are you supposed to do — look away?

That’s the question confounding Barrett Meeks, the protagonist of Michael Cunningham’s contemplative new novel, “The Snow Queen.” Barrett isn’t looking for divine reassurance as he wanders through Central Park. He’s just trying not to feel discouraged about his latest breakup — by text message (ouch). And yet there
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I had such a divided reaction to this book, and I'll start with my complaints so that I can leave off with the beautiful, poignant parts. The grumbling response: I am tired of books about hipsters, their crippling detachment, their drug abuse, their careful fashions, their longing for greatness. I'm looking at you, A Visit from the Goon Squad. And also, though in a goofier, happier mode, Telegraph Avenue. Are all writers hipsters who live in New York or San Francisco? Is that why la vie d'hipste ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
I mean, I guess? I get we're all searching for something beyond love and what to have for dinner, a desire for a sense of meaning, a sense of transcendence, etc. but when I finished the last page I was left wondering what this book is actually about (aside from chronicling random bits of the lives of a few lost New Yorkers). If I had to sum it up? Love is powerful. Okay, yeah. We get it, Michael.

Apr 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This novel is a perfect example of pretention. The writing is pretentious. Conversations between characters are unrealistic and reek of terrible, superficial intellectualism and philosophical insight that makes you want to gag. There is no plot. None. It's just an exercise in over-the-top descriptive drivel with the very thin thread of Beth's sickness to tie it together. I couldn't have been more disappointed with this work from a touted, multi-award winning author.
antónio alves
um livro enfadonho (em termos narrativos) de um escritor competente e talentoso no uso da palavra e dos recursos estilísticos - sobretudo comparações e metáforas.
...a milhas da leitura prazenteira de "as horas" e de "uma casa no fim dos mundo".
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Cunningham’s new novel is a fertile character study with a minimalist plot. There’s a central premise that hovers (literally!) over the story and provides a pique of low-grade excitement. Thirty-eight year-old Barrett Meeks, a scholar and underachiever who is low on funds and works in retail at a vintage store, has recently received a break-up text from his latest boyfriend. Walking through Central Park four days later, he sees a transcendent, numinous image in the sky.

“ A pale aqua light, trans
Bezimena knjizevna zadruga
Dopalo mi se čitanje, onako kako mi se dopadnu romani koje trajno zavolim, što je osećaj koji je u suprotnosti sa gomilom primedbi koje imam na sam tekst. I gde uopšte piše da knjiga mora da bude opasno dobra da bi vam se opasno uvukla pod kožu. Kaningem je vredan čitanja u svim verzijama.

Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Gosh, no! I still remember, I don't know how many years ago, trying to read 'The Hours' (in Portuguese) and having to put the book aside. I don't remember what made me not want to continue, but I thought that, after some years, I would be able to read and enjoy a Michael Cunningham book.

Well, I'm glad I picked a rather short one! Maybe I lack maturity to appreciate this, maybe it's just not my style, or maybe I just don't like Cunningham's writing, what he does with his characters. Maybe he is o
Dragos C Butuzea
un roman prost, scris admirabil

încântat de subiect și de autor (mi-a plăcut mult zile exemplare și am scris aici) - mă așteptam să găsesc mitul basmului lui andersen - și faptul că se romanul începe iarna, m-am înfofolit în curiozitate și l-am dus până la capăt.

cu chiu cu vai, căci câteva elemente „mistice“ cum ar fi o epifanie de lumină în central park din new york și un fulg de nea în ochii cuiva n-am mai găsit. doar singurătatea de gheață a personajelor:
- Un semn care să-mi spună că există c
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I called the store, a kind man at the Green Arcade in San Francisco agreed to put a copy of The Snow Queen aside for me on May 7, the day after its release.* Apparently, my enthusiasm showed, because when I walked into the store he knew immediately that I had come to claim my copy. I wasn’t surprised, because I felt breathless and flushed, as if reuniting with a lover.

Reading this book was better than any such assignation.

The story, of Barrett Meeks and his brother and roommate Tyler, both
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: statunitensi
C'è un curioso rigore matematico che contraddistingue la carriera letteraria di Cunningham: ogni cinque anni esce un romanzo. Ne sono passati poco meno di quattro dall'ultimo. Forse sarebbe stato meglio se si fosse preso quell'anno in più per completare questo romanzo, che anche al lettore più disattento apparirà ben presto come privo di sostanza.
La scrittura c'è, ed è sempre quella bellissima di Cunningham, rimarresti ore a veder scintillare ogni singola parola, quasi fosse davvero un irripetib
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2016
¡Qué maravilla de novela! Su recubrimiento es trágico, gélido y bastante desapacible, pero dentro, en el fondo, guarda una calidez sobrecogedora. Estamos ante una obra inusual y aparentemente poco compleja ambientada en la ciudad de Nueva York durante la década de los 2000. Tyler y Barrett son dos hermanos unidos por un vínculo muy especial que atraviesan etapas bastantes turbulentas de sus respectivas vidas. Tyler, músico ya instalado en la cuarentena y adicto a la cocaína, trata de componer un ...more

On his way through Central Park, after being dumped by text, Barrett sees a strange light. He is not religious and doesn't believe in magic, but he saw what he saw. At the same time his brother, Tyler, tries to write a song for his fiancé, Beth, who is dying of cancer. The three form an inseparable threesome without room for much magic in their lives. But a miracle appears, at least for a while, and it changes their lives. The story jumps from winter to winter over a couple of years, and snow f
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
From the start, this novel reminded me of La Boheme (or Rent for less operatic readers). We have illness, addiction, sex, money problems and even "visions" all in a crumbling apartment. I could practically hear the music swelling under the scenes. And, in fact, the overly indulgent look into these self-centered 20, 30 and 40 something's does ever into the melodramatic.

But it's also brilliant in many moments. The quality of writing alone rescues this novel from sappy to breathtaking.

Ayelet Waldman
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I think maybe it's because I read this on my Ipad. I kept losing track of the story. I so much prefer to read an actual book.
Daniel Afloarei
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
A se citi recenzia lui Dragos C Butuzea.
Larry H
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Barrett and Tyler Meeks are brothers. They're different in many ways—Barrett, who is gay, hasn't been able to settle down enough in his life to pursue a serious vocation, while Tyler is a struggling musician, obsessed with what is going on in the world around him. But they're also fairly similar, as both brothers are fiercely protective of each other (owing to a promise each made separately to their mother when they were younger), and neither is utterly satisfied with the direction their life is ...more
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The beauty of Michael Cummingham's sentences are to savior --not devour!

Here is a sample:

"Barrett does his best to transit some kind of healing force, through the palm of his hand. Then he walks out of the sickroom, returns to the comforting normalcy of the hall, and heads to the kitchen, where Tyler is awake, where coffee has been made, where rampancy of life, even in its most rudimentary form, plays like enchanted piper; where Tyler, suitor and swain, ferocious of brow, thin but athletically
Beth Anne
May 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
gah. another so so read. my expectations may have been too high, but i really feel that the author didn't live up to what he was trying to achieve. i think Cunningham writes beautiful sentences. but when you put them together i think sometimes they become overwhelming. the plot of the story is lost in all the beautiful writing.

i didn't get any references to the Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen), except for the fact that there was snow. i didn't find the conflict worth anything. i didn't find
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Обичам Кънингам и неговите объркани, измъчвани от екзистенциални кризи и оплетени в странни връзки чудаци.
И да, тази книга е по-слаба от "Дом на края на света" или "Дни образци". Действието е фокусирано почти изцяло във вътрешния свят на героите, което вероятно ще се стори тегаво и може би претенциозно за някой, който за пръв път подхваща книга на този автор.
И въпреки това - дори слабите книги на добър автор са по-добри от силните на слаб писач.
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I don't even know what I just read. It was so episodic and vague and the characters were fairly unlikeable. It was hard to get invested in this one.
Nancy Brisson
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What I love about Michael Cunningham is that he is a reader’s writer. His literary allusions are satisfyingly extended metaphors that enrich the story he is telling. That effect is most profound if you are intimately familiar with the particular writer or genre he is riffing on, but I am guessing that it embellishes the overall message of his story whether you get the allusion or not. This particular novel is decorated and layered with imagery. His novel The Hours was just about as perfect as a ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Encore une fois, la poésie et la mélancolie qui se dégage des romans de Michael Cunningham nous touchent au cœur dans Snow Queen. A travers cette galerie de portraits, l'auteur nous propose un puzzle d'émotions et de sentiments qui nous bousculent et nous charment. Comment ne pas s'attacher à Barrett, Tyler, Beth, Liz, Andrew, Sam ? Ces personnages un peu paumés et pourtant plein d'espoir face à la mort, à la maladie, à l'amour, à l'attente et à la vie tout simplement… Ces personnages en quête d ...more
Erin Chandler
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I feel like I've just spent a few weeks in Brooklyn, in the middle winter, with two brothers Barrett and Tyler. Barrett is a kick, my kind of hermit. A quick witted, half sullen, loner far too cool to bother with anything but the bare minimum. At the moment he's working at his friend Liz's novelty shop. Liz is strangely accessible for the tough NYC chick that she is. Barrett lives with his brother, Tyler, a musician whose time has pretty much passed. Tyler has a secret love affair with cocaine w ...more
Oct 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Who is the Snow Queen in Michael Cunningham book? The first answer that pops into my head after finishing this novel is who cares? This was a story without much of a plot, filled with flat characters and some seriously self indulgent writing. It's short, but even so, I found myself just skimming over long, dull paragraphs of blahblahblah, looking for the parts where something actually happens.

We begin with Barrett, whose walking through Central Park and sees a light in the sky - what is this li
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So...who is the Snow Queen? 6 80 Aug 27, 2014 07:22AM  
ending? 1 29 Aug 24, 2014 04:24PM  
Book Keeping: The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham 2 27 Jul 15, 2014 04:21PM  
  • The Two Hotel Francforts
  • The Visionist
  • The Blazing World
  • Casebook
  • And the Dark Sacred Night
  • Black Deutschland
  • Off Course
  • Starting Over: Stories
  • Thirty Girls
  • Andrew's Brain
  • Love in a Dark Time: and Other Explorations of Gay Lives and Literature
  • Jack Holmes and His Friend
  • In the Wolf's Mouth
  • Necessary Errors
  • The Old Romantic
  • Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
  • Plays Well with Others
  • American Innovations: Stories
Michael Cunningham is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award & Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as the non-fiction book, Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. His new novel, The Snow Queen, will be published in May of 2014. He lives in New York, and teaches at Yale University.
More about Michael Cunningham...

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“People are more than you think they are. And they’re less, as well. The trick lies in negotiating your way between the two.” 16 likes
“It's hardly ever the destination we've been anticipating, is it? Our hopes may seem unrealized, but we were in all likelihood hoping for the wrong thing. Where did we - the species, that is - pick up that strange and perverse habit?” 9 likes
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