The Snow Queen

Cunningham, Michael

Book - 2014
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Snow Queen
A heartbroken man turns to religion after seeing a vision in the sky above Central Park while his musician brother takes drugs he thinks will help him compose a ballad for his seriously ill wife. This 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 that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn't believe in visions, or in God, but he can't deny what he's seen. At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett's older brother, a struggling musician, is trying and failing to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. Tyler is determined to write a song that will be not merely a sentimental ballad but an enduring expression of love. Barrett, haunted by the light, turns unexpectedly to religion. Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers. Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon. The author follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence. He demonstrates a profound empathy for his conflicted characters and a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul.

Publisher: New York :, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 0374266328
Characteristics: 258 pages ;,22 cm


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Feb 22, 2015
  • sbryant124 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Remember how Seinfeld prided itself on being about nothing? But it was still funny most of the time?

This book is a profoundly unfunny Seinfeld book about nothing. The characters were blah, nothing happened and the title appeared to have absolutely no relationship to anything actually in the book.

Feb 19, 2015
  • KimiReith rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

While I preferred the first half, it was a wonderful book. The second half began to sound a bit like a play with clever dialogue, but I never stopped feeling engaged in the characters & plot. The writing in the first half was so exceptional, I couldn't believe I'd stumbled upon this writer's work. (Lucky me!) The characters & setting feel hip & current, but the writing is good enough that the novel isn't just trendy. Explored very interesting internal conflicts, especially within two very close brothers, one gay, one straight; one an addict in denial, the other unaware his brother is using. Both struggle to come to grips with the possible imminent death of a third character, Beth, and her significance to them. The gay brother has had what feels like a spiritual experience, alluded to in the synopsis--the light in the sky that seems like an intelligence acknowledging his existence. He'd like to believe his experience indicates something meaningful but fears it may just be an empty phenomenon. Feel compelled to add that I loved this novel--couldn't wait to read it every night, and now I've added all other Cunningham novels to my For Later shelf.

Sep 14, 2014
  • bronteside rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is brilliant. Full of beautiful writing, humour, and loss.
But what this writer offers is insight into the human condition: just bang on.

Jul 21, 2014
  • kakacurt rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Not quite to my taste

Jun 15, 2014
  • Michael Colford rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Michael Cunningham is a talented writer, and his prose is always a joy to read, but in his latest novel, The Snow Queen, I felt the story wasn't quite fully realized. There are some intriguing ideas -- around life, death, love, siblings, success, songwriting, caring -- but it's unclear what it all amounts to.

Still, despite a slow start, Cunningham's latest novel builds nicely and the threads do start to come together nicely in the last quarter of the book. Sadly, a Michael Cunningham novel only comes along once every few years, so it's disappointing when they don't all reach the heights that his previous work does. Definitely worth a read.

Jun 04, 2014
  • dollfacecrafter rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

absolutely could not get into this book

May 19, 2014
  • MARIA E WHELAN rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

While Cunningham's language flowed beautifully and the storyline was unique and realistic, I had a hard time connecting to the characters, I felt too removed as a reader from the content. It is a wonderful novel that just didn't reach me.


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