Monday, April 12, 2010

Winter's Tale - Scattered Thoughts on Battery Bridge, White Horse/Dark Horse, and The White Dog of Afghanistan

-After setting the stage for 200 pages, Winter's Tale began to "pay off" this week, with some major, game-changing plot twists (I won't spoil them here), the first action scenes since Book 1, and some great Wes Andersonish jokes - Praeger's decision to give a mid-winter campaign speech at the Cloisters at dawn, for example, or the scene in which Peter Lake tries to tell Praeger that he's different, meaning he's from the past, but everybody assumes that by 'different,' Lake really means that he's gay.

-Peter Lake becomes a main character again, instead of just the oddity he was in last week's reading. I'm struggling to figure out what Helprin is doing with him - he's clearly not yet at home in the 21st century, but he doesn't seem to be a creature of teh 19th century in any appreciably way - he's out of place in today's world, but he doesn't seem to really belong to the whimsical Cooheries world, either.

-Is anybody else surprised that Peter hasn't encountered Anthasor yet, though perhaps Helprin is saving that for closer to the end of the novel.

-I was a little suprised to see the Short Tails become important again, after so many pages in the wilderness. It was clever how, at first, the reader assumes that 'Short Tails' was just a name that gang happened to choose, but, as the novel goes on, you come to realize that they actually are very short people . . . with tails. Basically, they're the Morlocks of Winter's Tale. The weird battle scene that occurs outside of the Lake of the Cooheries, with little warning - what to make of that? How many Short Tails are there? And why are they so interested in Anthasor if he is clearly not taking them to Peter Lake?

-The construction of the magical bridge, so many decades after that builder was thought to have vanished, is a clever way to tie up (what I think I can be forgiven for assuming was) a loose end. The bridge's purpose hasn't really been made clear yet - does anybody have any guesses as to what it might be?

1 comment:

Night Writer said...

Having read the book before, I know what the purpose of the bridge is. Don't worry - I'm not going to spill it.

I will say, however, that far from being a loose end, the bridge is an important part of the allegory Helprin has been weaving. The hints have been there throughout the book, and in the Mead's own description of his vision and mission. Watch closely though, as Hardesty goes about his own desperate quest in the final chapters, to see the same theme written on a smaller scale.

The end is near, and the tumblers are falling into place to open a very complex lock. It's similar, in fact, to the way Peter Lake released the tochets to the double-mutterer earlier. I don't think there is such a thing as a loose end in Helprin's world. I can't wait until we're finished and people can share their interpretations of what happens and why.