Monday night, I started rereading Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale because I found it while organizing my bookshelves and remembered how much I adored it when I read it in high school. They’re actually creating a movie based on this book this year, so part of the reason I’m reading it again is so I’ll be ready to compare the movie to Helprin’s gorgeous words.
All it took for me to remember why I loved this book so much was reading the prologue. I think Helprin could write a story about dirt and I would read it. But, he didn’t write a story about dirt; he created a spellbinding masterpiece. I’ll talk more about Helprin and the book I’m reading when I do a review of it. For now, here are some of his words for you to enjoy.
A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan. As a book in which to read this plan, New York is unsurpassed. For the whole world has poured its heart into the city by the Palisades, and made it far better than it ever had any right to be.
But the city is now observed, as it often is, by the whitened mass in which it rests–rushing by us at unfathomable speed, crackling like wind in the mist, cold to the touch, glistening and unfolding, tumbling over itself like the steam of an engine or cotton spilling from a bale. Though the blinding white web of ceaseless sounds flows past mercilessly, the curtain is breaking…it reveals amid the clouds a lake of air as smooth and clear as a mirror, the deep round eye of a white hurricane.
At the bottom of this lake lies the city. From our great height it seems small and distant, but the activity within it is apparent, for even when the city appears to be no bigger than a beetle, it is alive. We are falling now, and our swift unobserved descent will bring us to life that is blooming in the quit of another time. As we float down in utter silence, into a frame again unfreezing, we are confronted by a tableau of winter colors. These are very strong, and they call us in.
~Mark Helprin, from “Winter’s Tale”
Helprin, Mark. Winter’s Tale. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1983. Print.