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 Side.
Though he thinks the house i...more
At the September meeting, the attacks started.
"Well," said one woman, "I almost never give up on a book, but I couldn't take more than a hundred pages of this one. And could somebody please tell me just what the heck a 'cloud wall' is supposed to be?"
The last thing Mrs. Gamely said to her daughter was, “Remember, what we are trying to do in this life is to shatter time and bring back the dead.”Winter’s Tale is a BIG book. I refer not only to its 748-page length, but to its ambition. It is a big book about big ideas, and it takes some big characters to realize the author’s ambition. There are a few here.
Colin Farrell as …
Peter Lake, the rock on which Mark Helprin builds much of his story, shares his genesis with the likes of Moses and ...more
There’s a passage somewhere between pages 600 and 700 where Helprin goes hog wild in his description of the opening shot of a billiards game. The spheres are crashing and the green felt is cowering and the angles are all ...more
There are many beautifully descriptive passages, mostly of the wind & snow; the best are those concerning the magical horse Althansor. Unfortunately, there are many of them, and I found my heart beginning to sink whenever another chapter began with another beautifully descriptive passage about the wind & snow.
I never did discover a plot. The human characters came and went without any real impact, either on the story or on me, although the magical horse is charac ...more
This is an intense example of magical realism. At times, the reader must willingly suspend his or her disbelief until the very notion of disbelief is shot straight to hell. Still, it is about the journey Helprin takes us on--not the destination we anticipate at the beginning of the story.
Meet Peter Lake: a middle aged, exceedingly clever burglar who ...more
Let me start by stressing that this novel is for READERS. Not people who say they like to read but only do so occasionally or lightly. Or even those who do delve into many wonderful works but only when the stars are aligned. This is a rewarding and wondrous book for those who will actually take time for it and really get lost inside. If you are not that kind of person, than maybe you should p ...more
It was the City Of Books, and this was the kind of book, nay, the Very Kind and most-principal example, that was written then, and by rights most highly regarded by the Re ...more
To be fair, when Helprin isn't waxing lyrical about 1) snow 2) justice 3) urban planning, the plot chugs along, the fantasy is enchanting, the jokes are funny, and the characters are delightfully anachronistic -- and not just the ones who are quite l ...more
That’s what I thought I was getting with this, but I have to confess that “Winter’s Tale” (why no article?) is the literary equivalent of a date with a crazy person. Don’t believe me? I’ll set the scene.
You arrive and immediately realize this was a bad idea, because while you’ve only just sat down they’re already on about how cute their ...more
Helprin's style of writing is like the ocean, deep and dark, quietly ebbing and flowing, eroding the edges of continents, but also confident and strong, churni ...more
I started it over three times and every time I lost interest, lost track of what was going on, and I finally decided life was too short.
Winter's Tale had a bunch of sing song prose that really could have used a good culling. Ultimately, I didn't know who anyone was and I didn't care, because all the pretty prose got in the way.
Just say what you mean dammit! Sure, make it a little pretty.....but everything in moderation!
There was a white horse a ...more
I survived this book!
I am the STRONGEST!
That's me after finishing this story.
Soooo...I hated it.
I totally read this in the wrong age (both in terms of my physical age and in terms of the century in which I am currently living) - I should have read this when I was in my young 20's, still idealistic and full of wonder, before the world changed over to the new millennium and 9/11.
I think had I read this back then, I'd have been enchanted.
In fact, I was enchanted through pro ...more
I almost finished this 2 weeks ago, but couldn't bear to so I left the last 10 pages. Now I'm done, and I'm sorry to have woken up from a most magnificent dream. Because that's what this book was for me - reading it I would enter a fugue state, images would move across my internal screen, sounds would erupt and then fade away, I witnessed so many things, some terrible some so beautiful I felt like cryi ...more
I will admit that there are passages - often whole chapters - that I s ...more
It's a profound book, steeped in love and human emotion, and yet whimsical in a lot of ways.
Hurrah for contradictory introductions to reviews!
Winter's Tale initially flirts with introducing philosophy, like an adult t ...more
But I ...more
Every once in a while a book comes along that absolutely changes your life. As readers, I feel like we live for moments like that. I know at least I do. That perfect moment of clarity when a book reaches in and grabs your heart and soul and somehow becomes a part of you. And from tha ...more
Helprin's writing is so flowery, so kitchy, so over the top, it's nearly hypnotic. Every half-informative sentence sprouts a completely superfluous one:
Rum, champagne, cakes, and roasts were everywhere. (Well, not everywhere: they weren't in the fireplace, or on top of the harp, or pasted on the ceiling.) The house was warm and bright. Even the cats danced.This multitude of redundant sentences tha ...more
I could not read more; it may happen in the real life, I admit (people are strange and often enough, quite insane and depraved, we already know that): but this is no valid reason to read about it.
At least, not for me.
One relief from the very ...more
Re-read Winter's Tale in April 2013. Extraordinary writing. I am at a loss to describe this masterpiece of literature. As Newsday Magazine says, "It is a gifted writer's love affair with the language."
The almost 800 pages o ...more
Helprin takes us on a Journey through New York in a fantastic way. Once in what feels like the early 1900's and again in a more modern Manhattan, but both places are of a different dimension altogether, where anything is possible. This is n ...more
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And yet, there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined, it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given - so we track it, in linear fashion piece by piece. Time however can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was is; everything that ever will be is - and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we image that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but something that is.”