‘A Vermont Story’ by Mark Helprin

A Vermont Story by Mark Helprin, 1980

The magic trick:

Creating a world apart from human concerns only to show how human concerns can intrude to ruin things

We close our week of Vermont tales with an appropriately titled piece of wonder from Mark Helprin.

It’s a story that isn’t in a hurry. Our narrator luxuriates over details and lingers long enough to describe his feelings as much as he describes the setting and action.

This style creates a wonderful reading experience if you let yourself get taken under the story’s spell. Everything in this story’s world is precious; the grandparents’ home, where the narrator is visiting as a child with his sister, is literally an island – a would-be untouched Eden.

So there is much sadness generated from the inevitable contrast created between human error and this precious world of natural beauty and loving looks from grandmother to granddaughter.

Human cruelty always intervenes to spoil things, and this story does an amazing job of demonstrating that sad fact.

And that’s quite a trick on Helprin’s part.

The selection:

Then we drove off in the truck. I sat in the middle, and my sister was on my grandmother’s lap, her little head pointed straight at the faraway white mountains visible through the windshield. I saw my grandmother looking at the way my sister’s eyes were focused on the distance; in my grandmother’s restrained smile, lit by bright light coming shadowless from the north, was more love than I have ever seen since. They both had blue eyes; and I felt only pain, because I knew that the moment would pass – as it did.

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