decomP, Oct. 2014
At risk of planting a seed of prejudice in your mind, I will lodge this one criticism of Dolly Reynolds’ story “Snow Fallen”: I would have cut the last line.
Seriously. Too schmaltzy.
That’s my only gripe, and others may disregard this criticism altogether. Overall, I think the story is beautifully realized, impeccably structured, and its lead character Henry a strong mix of ambiguity and rich detail. The overall plot/scene is simple: it’s snowing out, Henry has a fucked-up hand, his wife and asthmatic child are sleeping, and in the background of this fireplace-lit domestic scene is a looming act of recent violence. Also, he’s on a not insignificant amount of Vicodin.
The real strength of this piece, a strength we see among many of the most successful works of flash and short fiction, is a jarring inexplicability, an action or event that does not receive a careful rendering but rather hangs there without context or cause, forcing the reader to perceive an otherwise straightforward scene in an entirely different—in this case, much darker—way.
There is much we don’t know, and with that not-knowing the reader can layer no small amount of inference onto the carefully placed bones of this short story.
Before I leave you to cozy up by the fire and bask in the Vicodin’s glow, I want to point out a few of my favorite details: the wheeze of the asthmatic son, the “railroad track” stitches crossing Henry’s hand, and the lack of heat anywhere but near the fireplace. This story represents a truly warm, pleasant (and possibly beautiful) moment within a household stricken by privation, implied violence, impending doom. Thank you, Vicodin, for this illumination.