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book ´ Winter's Tale Ë Mark Helprin

Winter's TaleNew 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 atte 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 Kal El set adrift as an infant in a small craft in New York harbor when his immigrant wannabe parents are about to be turned away Foundling Peter is raised by a group known at Baymen an unusual band that is part deep interior bayou folk and part Native Americans They inhabit and work the Bayonne Marsh a piece of New Jersey visible from New York harbor His story is the primary character driven thread here We see Peter and this world from the beginning of the twentieth century to the turn of the millennium Peter makes his way from Dickensian street urchin to mechanic to gang member and burglar to something granderListo as Athansor is a great white horse the stuff of legends which comes in handy when there are impossible distances to be leapt and rescues or escapes to be effected Boy meets horse when this milk truck euine’s fanciful walkabout through the city is interrupted by his encounter with Peter who is fleeing for his life from the Short Tails gang and its larger than life leader Pearly Soames Pearly would like to send Peter to meet his maker with extreme prejudice for a betrayal we will learn about later Athansor and Peter gallop through this imaginary version of New York doing things like snatching hats off policemen and dashing through a theater in mid performance A real hoofer on Broadway If you think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship you would be right Hi ho Athansor AwayJessica Brown Findlay as Beverly Penn is a consumptive 18 year old they upped her to 21 for the film heiress who suffers so from the fever of her condition that she sleeps on the roof in winter in order to cool off Cue the Drifters She is playing the piano when she is startled seeing Peter as he is in the process of burglarizing the family home Having had a vision that something significant would be changing her life it seems clear to her that the something is the criminal element in her living room She has other visions as well visual and auditory perceptions of a reality beyond that of which mere mortals are aware There are other large figures in the story and other story lines but these are the main ones And the story of Peter and Beverly’s love is balanced by Pearly and Peter’s antipathy Russell Crowe as Pearly Soames with his droogies Short TailsThe author is not content to weave a tale around his maybe doomed lovers but offers us other couples to tote some of that emotional freight We meet families at various points in their history A tot in one section becomes a capitalist scion in another for example I will spare you too much plot summary or a fuller list of characters Even by my generous standards it would be excessively long But I have included a link to such a blow by blow in the Extra Stuff section if that seems useful Suffice it to say that in upstate New York there is a Brigadoon like town known as The Lake of the Coheeries and some pretty magical things take place there No you do not have to wait a hundred years before it appears It actually does not appear on any maps but can be accessed if you know how It is the source for several of our additional characters and some fabulously creative images It lies beyond the crucible zone that surrounds the city substituting a huge hill of ice and snow as a barrier for the white clouds that enclose the city farther south The town serves as a fairyland version of the country in the same way that Helprin’s vision of New York City well really Manhattan His vision of the city offers little for the other four boroughs than a Breughelian image of them as places to avoid is a fantastical version of the real place But all this seems a maguffin for the real business here which lies in the themes being addressedThemesMark Halperin has written a love song to New York well parts of it anyway There is a stunning lyricism to his descriptions of the city alive with romantic vision yet also fueled by a dose of paranoia and class fear But he is after bigger fish than venting his affection for The Big Apple or whatever nickname might apply in his alternate universe a whole ocean’s worth Small matters like free will the nature of existence the relationship between the rational and the spiritual the nature of time justice mortality You know stuffHelprin argues that the spiritual must accompany the rational or the result is a soulless existence Well we've been mechanized We view ourselves as mechanisms This is a trend since The Enlightenment The Enlightenment in my view has two streams a good stream and a bad stream The good stream is the beauty of reason to approach something via scientific method via logic The ugly part of The Enlightenment is that if you confine yourselves to those methods then you are limiting yourself in terms of your understanding of what a human soul is By necessity because you cannot define the soul as it's not subject to proof human beings become mechanisms Without faith a person is a mechanism and then there's no reason he shouldn't be treated or work under those assumptions as a mechanism from Contemporary Lit interviewIs there some underlying logic to our universe machines physical psychic or spiritual that whirr turn and grind to support everything? “Apart from natural laws from the world as we know it” Hardesty speculated “maybe there are laws of organization which bind us to patterns that we can’t see and to tasks that we don’t perceive” And Helprin takes a long view of things “Churchmen” she had said “like Boissy d’Anglas burn themselves up in seeking and they find nothing If your faith is genuine then you meet your responsibilities fulfill your obligations and wait until you are found It will come If not to you then to your children and if not to them then to their children” Helprin posits a world or worlds in which the select few can see and access an underlying reality and it is not clear that there is a path to this understanding other than dumb luck One must wonder if the writers of The Matrix or promoters of born again isms had Helprin in mind her strength was not derived from things which can be catalogued or reasonably discussed She had an inexplicable lucidity a power to see things for what they were Somehow she had come into possession of a pure standard It was as if lightning had struck the ground in front of her and had been frozen and prolonged until she could see along its bright and transparent shaft all the way to its absolute source No this is not taken from the Left Behind series and Bev was not bitten by an irradiated spiderThe city as crucible which we first see from a god like view looking down is surrounded by an enormous and deitifically powerful white cloud Unlike the low hanging clouds in real NYC which can make building tops appear to vanish when they pass through this white cloud can actually take the things it touches It makes the city into an almost closed system that will experience both the deadly cold of extreme winter and intense heat from another source “these winters have not been for nothing They are the plough The wind and the stars are harrowing the land and battering the city I feel it and can see it in everything The animals know it is coming The ships in the harbor rush about and have come alive because it is coming I may be dead wrong but I do believe that every act has significance and that in our time all the ceaseless thunder is not for nothing” There is the potential for greatness in cities this one in particular but there must be a blood letting in order to usher in a new golden age and that seems perfectly fine for the god of this novel The notion of justice also comes in for considerable attention Peter’s first craft is named “City of Justice” Jackson Mead a builder of bridges says “My purpose in one word is justice” A significant silver tray that Hardesty Marratta a significant character cherishes in inscribed thus “For what can be imagined than the sight of a perfectly just city rejoicing in justice alone” Peter engages in a uest for justice as well In a passage about time justice gets the final word 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 imagine that it is in motion and unfinished it is uite finished and uite 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 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 as something that is And it’s just tough luck on those who fall afoul of the currents of time If you are rich then I guess you were meant to be and if you were dirt poor well sorry it was always thus It does strike me that this is a point of view that might be favored by those who have landed in the cushier seats ImageryBe careful where you step You may bump into another image Gates figure large here Both the literal gates that surround the Battery in lower Manhattan and a set of four psychic gates that cities are supposed to have resonating with the four parts of the novel visible of course only to people who are very very special Color figures large Pearly whose name certainly reflects the seasonal milieu is deeply affected by color and seeks it out by whatever means possible But whereas the wall was white the city was a palette of upwelling colors Its forms and geometry entranced him—the orange blaze in clear upper windows; a gas lamp’s green and white bell like glare; leaping tongues of fire; red hot booming chambers in the charcoal; shoe black horses trotting airily at the head of varnished carriages; peaked and triangular roofs; the ballet of the crowds as they took stairs turned corners and forged across streets; the guttural noise of machinerysails that filled the ends of streets with billows of white or sharp angular planes and then collapsed into the bordering buildings or made of themselves a guillotine Blue and gold come in for particular and much repeated attention Stars shine brightly here as well whether the actual universe of stars or their simulacra in a large chamber or a magical painting Bridges and rainbows carry significance as well Machines are also than mere mechanisms Mark Helprin image from NPRPoliticsIn case you did not know Helprin is a political sort a conservative true believer who writes speeches for Republican leaders His particular sensibilities enter here as well as he offers the odd diatribe on how any sort of public assistance is a form of satanic temptation leading good people astray and allowing bad people to milk the rest of us to support what is portrayed as a life of low leisure He also has a vision of wide swaths of the lower classes as being purely bent on destruction as if the race riots of the 60s had burned a hole in his vision and he was forced thereafter to see everything in the world through those altered lenses It gets intrusive at times At least he has the decency to balance his Ayn Randish laudatory portrayal of one mogul with an eually dark one of another a Rupert Murdoch stand in And he does offer an interesting proposal for an ideal way to organize a company that speaks to a need for fairness but which would never be tolerated in the real world by those whose mission it is to absorb ALL the wealth He also harbors a view of criminality that is to say the least eccentric That said the political aspect while present and occasionally toxic could have been a lot worse In SumWhat is impressive about Winter’s Tale is the sheer volume of creativity on display here His portrayal of a Dickensian sort of steam punk New York was fascinating and effective The Lake of the Coheeries is very effectively magical But just as it is wonderful to enjoy a slice of cake it can become a different sort of experience if one were to try devouring the entire thing So it is here a case of creativity run amok The author wanders off For example after we have invested in Peter Beverly and Athansor Helprin sets them aside for almost two hundred pages to play in some other snow fields Really? Helprin is at his weakest when attempting a sort of slapstick humor Those bits fall very very flat As do sections where a character acuires otherworldly powers And Athansor’s propensity for arriving in the nick of time to save this or that one makes one wonder if he might have been a sort of deity made by one of the many machines that populate the story If you have not yet read Winter’s Tale prepare to make a special effort to keep track of the characters There are many And oh yeah lest you think the opening uote was purely gratuitous there are resurrections here Helprin is definitely thinking BIGYou may find Winter’s Tale exhilarating and you may find it exhausting You may feel enlarged by the beauty of the imagery and reduced by the occasional mean spiritedness manifested by the author You may feel intellectually stimulated by the grand notions portrayed but deadened by the familiar trope of access being reserved only to the elect You may feel deeply at the poetry of Helprin’s descriptions they certainly sing to me in my love for my home town but may experience frustration that he takes so bloody long to get to the point Winter’s Tale may leave you cold or it may warm you to unimagined possibilities But whether your reaction is pain exultation or both you will definitely react Winter’s Tale has been called one of the 25 greatest American novels of the 20th Century I do not agree but I can see why some people think that It is pretty clear that it is one of the most ambitious I believe it would have been a better book with a tighter focus and about two hundred or so fewer pages But even though I have issues with the book I do believe that it is well worth reading Winter’s Tale may not have completely warmed the cockles of my reader’s heart but it is still pretty chillPosted February 28 2014EXTRA STUFFInterview with MH in The Paris Review and in Contemporarylitcom – This the source of the uote from the author used in the reviewThis review in the Thriving Family web site contains a detailed run through of the events of the book and a look at some of the imageryOopsy I used an incorrect image for Mark Helprin when putting together this review A helpful GR reader noted the error and a correction has been made But you might prefer the image of actor Edward Fox that was used in error I know I doMark Helprin ok ok really Edward Fox as a white walkerA film was made of the book released in 2014 While it completely lacks the grandness of the novel I still found it enjoyable Colin Farrell was fine in the lead Russell Crowe perfect as Pearly Soames and Jessica Finley very appealing as the ethereal Beverly It will remind you of elements of the book without at all capturing the larger vision

doc Winter's Tale

kindle å Winter's Tale Paperback ñ moneyexpresscard » 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 Se of a love that at first he does not fully understand is driven to stop time and bring back the dead His great struggle in a city ever alight with its own energy and besieged by unprecedented winters is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literatur I've got little chance of meeting my reading challenge this year because I keep reading books that weigh than I do This one runs to almost 750 pages On the back cover someone refers to it as a gifted writer's love affair with language which perhaps is a polite way of saying it's a very self indulgent novel Essentially it's a writer with prodigious resources of vitality and mental agility enjoying himself I won't attempt to outline the plot because at best I only half understood it It's a kind of alternative history of New York bristling with whimsy flying horses and psychopathic dwarfs in fancy dress and rather half baked philosophy But for all that it is enjoyable Principally because Helprin writes so well You always see hear smell what he describes The visuals are often fabulous with many memorable images but it's perhaps a novel of brilliant setpieces rather than one of compelling narrative drive and consistency This partly due to the excessive number of characters all of whom fall a little short of being riveting At times Helprin reminds me of David Mitchell the mischief and vitality though the former's humour is less sophisticated The novel contains a fair few gratuitous comic sketches few of which worked for me I'd rate it at about 37 stars

Mark Helprin Ë Winter's Tale pdf

Mpts to rob a fortress like mansion on the Upper West SideThough he thinks the house is empty the daughter of the house is home Thus begins the love between Peter Lake a middle aged Irish burglar and Beverly Penn a young girl who is dyingPeter Lake a simple uneducated man becau Flowery and ultimately meaninglessThere 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 snowI 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 characterized probably better than most Peter Lake does span the whole novel but he spends the final part in a daze of incomprehension which I shared The occasional moments of drama all resolved easily and without any great surprisesI was irritated by the wholesale dismissal of non central characters but it seemed I was expected to believe in the city I am reluctant to call it New York because it is obviously not a real place and care what happened to itIn the end I felt no attachment to the city and it seemed finally that the author didn't either