Friday, November 25, 2022

Cold Enough for SnowCold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

Cold Enough for Snow is a quiet novel about a woman and her mother touring Japan. It is so quiet that almost nothing happens, they take trains, go sightseeing, hear music, shop, eat meals, walk and talk--very matter-of-fact. The book has an almost daunting tiny font-size and is only ninety-five pages. Yet, squinting, I read on enjoying the author's perfect, measured writing and calm in this author's reflections.

"I asked my mother what she believed about the soul and she thought for a moment. Then, looking not at me but at the hard, white light before us, she said that she believed that we were all essentially nothing, just series of sensations and desires, none of it lasting. When she was growing up, she said that she had never thought of herself in isolation, but rather as inextricably linked to others. Nowadays, she said, people were hungry to know everything, thinking that they could understand it all, as if enlightenment were just around the corner. But, she said, in fact there was no control, and understanding would not lessen any pain. The best we could do in this life was to pass through it, like smoke through the branches, suffering, until we either reached a state of nothingness, or else suffered elsewhere. She spoke about other tenets, of goodness and giving, the accumulation of kindness like a trove of wealth. She was looking at me then, and I knew that she wanted me to be with her on this, to follow her, but to my shame I found that I could not and worse, that I could not even pretend."

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