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Wintry Literature For A Snowy Day

Those of us living in snowbound Washington, D.C., this past week have found ourselves starting to run out of words to describe all the white stuff that's buried the city, shut down the federal government and paralyzed a big swath of the East Coast. So we decided to turn to writers who have described snow in especially evocative ways over the years — in the hands of a good storyteller, snow can be magical, or monstrous.

First stop is the children's picture book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It begins:


Another child's recollection of snow was penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In The Long Winter she tells the story of how her family almost starved to death on the prairie:


From the heartland of America to Turkey, where writer Orhan Pamuk, in his novel Snow, describes traveling into a blizzard:


No roundup of snow would be comprehensive if it didn't include Smilla, an expert on ice and snow in Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow:


In Richard Wright's Native Son, the blizzard is a metaphor for mounting troubles, as Bigger Thomas dreams up and executes the harebrained kidnapping scheme with his girlfriend Bessie:

And finally, there's only one way to finish this list, and that's with the last few stanzas of Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening":

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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