‘Snow Angel’ by Stephanie Vaughn

Vaughn, Stephanie 1990

Snow Angel by Stephanie Vaughn, 1990

The magic trick:

Very funny turns of phrase

Truth hardly seems like a magic trick. Truth is truth.

But in literature, it’s a tough thing to pull off. When a story strays from recognizable reality or, more important, some kind of emotional truth, it gets nearly unreadable real quick. Arguably, it’s the most important thing a story can do.

Every sentence of “Snow Angel” hits the right notes. It’s certainly not a fancy story. It’s not particularly inventive. Nothing dramatic. But that’s its joy. It’s never trying too hard. It simply tells the story of domestic stress facing a young mother, with the narrative authority of someone who knows. And that’s quite a trick on Vaughn’s part.

The selection:

“This is not a bad life,” she continues. “We have a nice little house, and plenty to eat, and only as many debts as we think we are going to be able to pay. We are doing much better than most people living in the last quarter of the twentieth century.”

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