Snow by Ann Beattie, 1986
The magic trick:
Contrasting the memories of a temporary love affair
Very short story today. “Snow” recalls a love affair that lasted one winter. The first paragraph sees the narrator remembering different aspects and moments of that winter mostly with the fondness and glow of nostalgia. The second paragraph, in direct contrast, takes those same moments and filters them through the ex-lover’s lens – or at least how the narrator assumes the ex remembers it all.
As a result the accuracy of the memories isn’t the point at all. It’s the point of view that matters. All life is only what we perceive it to be. And that’s quite a trick on Beattie’s part.
I remember the cold night you brought in a pile of logs and a chipmunk jumped off as you lowered your arms. “What do you think you’re doing in here?” you said, as it ran through the living room. It went through the library and stopped at the front door as though it had knew the house well. This would be difficult for anyone to believe, except perhaps as the subject of a poem. Our first week in the house was spent scraping, finding some of the house’s secrets, like wallpaper under wallpaper. In the kitchen, a pattern of white-gold trellises supported purple grapes as big and round as ping-pong balls. When we painted the walls yellow, I thought of the bits of grape that remained underneath and imagined the vine popping though, the way some plants can tenaciously push though anything.
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