"The Dead" by James Joyce
Every time I got in the car this past week, it snowed. That’s not unheard of in New England, but it really felt like Mother Nature might be out to get me. After all, it never seems to snow these days when I’m home and I can just sit back and enjoy the beauty of it.
As a result, I have snow on the brain, and I can’t think of a short story featuring snow that I love more than “The Dead” by James Joyce.
At fifty-three pages (in the Signet Classics version I have), it’s a bit of a slog to get through, especially in the early going, when you’re not even sure who the story is about. But as it approaches its ending: man, you better watch out. There is not a better final page on my shelves and there’s not likely to be.
That hasn’t stopped me and every writer out there from trying, however.
In a nut, it’s the story of Gabriel and a secret his wife’s kept from him for years that only comes out due to the particulars of this night, the party they’ve just been to, and the snow that is “general all over Ireland.”
It’s the kind of quiet story I want more of my students to take a stab at, the kind I wish more readers in this summer blockbuster age would give a chance.
The story can be found in Dubliners.