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Picturing a World

Winter in New York

Given the recent snow and ice here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking about why books set in winter appeal. Even though the action of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is directed toward delivering Narnia from the grip of the White Witch, it’s the snow you remember, the snow that all children love. For adults, Greer Gilman in Moonwise and John Buchan in Sick Heart River go much, much further in making readers feel the life-and-death misery of the cold, but I still like to be—vicariously—in the wintry places they make so freezingly vivid.

As for Paul Cornoyer’s romantic view of New York in the snow, who can resist it? With the lamppost and fiacre, it might as well be Paris! Exactly. While I was working on Where the Light Falls, I learned to love cityscapes painted by artists trained in Paris, and Cornoyer was one of those who studied at the Académie Julian. Nevertheless, a harder-edged New York is where I see Mattie, and I’ve set ANONYMITY in summer (you must write what seems true to the story you’re telling). If I’m lucky, maybe one day I’ll be inspired to write a shivery winter story (with a few wonderful, cozy moments of respite).

For Poul Webb’s blog posts with many more paintings by Cornoyer, click here and here.
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