Recently a sensational story was making tracks on the internet: a Russian researcher on a long stay in Antarctica stabbed a colleague because he was giving away the endings to books. Turns out, this version of events may not be completely accurate, but it reminds me of Gotham’s tagline: Stories. Everywhere. (You can see it here, on our Winter brochure.)
There’s a story everywhere you look, and everyone has a right to tell his or her story. That’s really what Gotham is all about.
That brochure cover has me thinking about snow, in stories.
A favorite would be from the film Dr. Zhivago, a perfect movie to watch if you’re shut in one wintry day. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Zhivago is living in an abandoned country house with his mistress, Lara. The place is mostly empty and so cold they wear their coats and hats indoors. Outside lies endless snow beneath a bitter wind. But Zhivago and Lara are on fire with love for each other, and he spends his days writing poems about her. Then a man comes to escort Lara away because her life is in danger.
Zhivago watches Lara ride away on a horse-drawn sled, she turning into a tiny figure on the snowscape. He dashes upstairs and smashes a frosted window—making the house even colder—to catch one last look at his love.
Melodramatic, romantic, unforgettable.
In James Joyce’s long short story “The Dead,” we accompany Gabriel Conroy, a professor in Ireland, to a family Christmas party where he frets over various things, like a speech he must give, his wife’s obsession with a past lover, and the snow falling outside. In the final lines—some of the finest in the English language—the snow overtakes all else:
Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
If you’re so inclined, write a story or scene or even description about winter. And please know that we have a wonderful lineup of classes for our Winter term.
(Just a reminder that you can find my letters, and other great stuff, on the Gotham Blog.)
President, Gotham Writers Workshop