Benjamin Mautner – ‘The Snow Queen’ Explores Life, Death and Hans Christian Andersen

Michael Cunningham might be writing the loveliest prose stylist in American letters today. In his new novel, ‘The Snow Queen’, the Pulitzer prize-winning author applies that exquisite gift to a tale of brothers dealing with failure and mortality in New York City.Benjamin Mautner

As The Daily Beast reports, Cunningham’s strength in capturing the ebb and flow of modern life in the big city. But ‘The Snow Queen’ is not content to simply reflect life as it is in the ever-gentrifying urban landscape, with Cunningham shooting his story with semi-supernatural elements – the book shares its title with a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

The novel’s protagonists, Tyler and Barrett, must contend with their complicated relationship, instilled in them by their now deceased mother, while also dealing with the personal and professional failures that have characterized their lives.  Tyler, at 43 years-old, is an unknown musician, while his younger brother is a brilliant, PhD program dropout working in a vintage store. Much of Tyler’s self-worth stems from his caring for his girlfriend who is suffering from cancer, distracting him from the music that has failed to bring him notoriety.

Barrett experiences one of the aforementioned supernatural elements, when he sees an apparition, “a pale aqua light, translucent, a swatch of veil, star-high.” He good portion of the novel attempting to ascribe this occurrences some sort of significance.

Fans of Cunningham and ‘The Hours’ understand that the author’s real preoccupation is with art and the artist. Tyler’s self-criticism over the wedding song he composes, as the article points out, is emblematic of Cunningham’s exploration of the purpose art serves in the lives of artists. It can be a source of salvation or destruction.

To read more about ‘The Snow Queen,’ head over to original article at The Daily Beast.