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Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies

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Recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989, Janet Frame has long been admired for her startlingly original prose and formidable imagination. A native of New Zealand, she is the author of eleven novels, four collections of stories, a volume of poetry, a children's book, and her heartfelt and courageous autobiography -- all published by George Braziller. Recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989, Janet Frame has long been admired for her startlingly original prose and formidable imagination. A native of New Zealand, she is the author of eleven novels, four collections of stories, a volume of poetry, a children's book, and her heartfelt and courageous autobiography -- all published by George Braziller. This fall, we celebrate our thirty-ninth year of publishing Frame's extraordinary writing.


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Recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989, Janet Frame has long been admired for her startlingly original prose and formidable imagination. A native of New Zealand, she is the author of eleven novels, four collections of stories, a volume of poetry, a children's book, and her heartfelt and courageous autobiography -- all published by George Braziller. Recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989, Janet Frame has long been admired for her startlingly original prose and formidable imagination. A native of New Zealand, she is the author of eleven novels, four collections of stories, a volume of poetry, a children's book, and her heartfelt and courageous autobiography -- all published by George Braziller. This fall, we celebrate our thirty-ninth year of publishing Frame's extraordinary writing.

30 review for Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Adriana Diaz

    I am always amazed at the writing of Janet Frame. It pains me to know that she suffered greatly from mental illness, because she gave so generously from her from her unique vision. I know she is referred to as a "magic realist" and I suppose that is an appropriate genre in which to classify her work, but truthfully, she gave us the reality she perceived. And it took great daring to share what she saw, and how she saw the world. Then to have developed such a brilliant talent with the English lang I am always amazed at the writing of Janet Frame. It pains me to know that she suffered greatly from mental illness, because she gave so generously from her from her unique vision. I know she is referred to as a "magic realist" and I suppose that is an appropriate genre in which to classify her work, but truthfully, she gave us the reality she perceived. And it took great daring to share what she saw, and how she saw the world. Then to have developed such a brilliant talent with the English language . . .if anything her mental capacity, I think, far out did most people. In this book she looks at life through a Snowman's who calls himself "an adventure in mortality." We listen in as he learns lessons from the Perpetual Snowflake who lives on the window sill. Here is just one brief lesson the Perpetual Snowflake teaches him: ". . .when events happen they appropriate the time to themselves, stealing days, months, years . . . .and once death takes a handful of time there is no amount of minutes, days, years which will satisfy his greed; in the end he takes a lifetime." Snowman, Snowman is only about 103 pages, so there are also several amazing short short stories to savor here. It's not my first Janet Frame book, and it certainly will not be my last.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lee Foust

    This book is an interesting collection of Janet Frame's attempts to write outside of the realistic novel tradition. About half of it is a single novelette, Snowman, Snowman, and the other half a collection of mostly short (2-3 page) vignettes. While there is some lovely writing here and there, I unfortunately found Frame's attempts to free her writing up (or so these texts seemed to me) to work only occasionally better than, or even as well as, her fabulous novels. Could be a matter of taste, bu This book is an interesting collection of Janet Frame's attempts to write outside of the realistic novel tradition. About half of it is a single novelette, Snowman, Snowman, and the other half a collection of mostly short (2-3 page) vignettes. While there is some lovely writing here and there, I unfortunately found Frame's attempts to free her writing up (or so these texts seemed to me) to work only occasionally better than, or even as well as, her fabulous novels. Could be a matter of taste, but I felt that the resistance to straight realism and narrative here rather fell more often toward medieval allegory or Aesopian fable, when I would have preferred a more experimental, surreal approach. Often the texts struck me a silly rather than suggestive, even if Frame, as she usually does, hit on some lovely turns of phrase, some wonderfully profound human sentiments, and a few dramatic situations as well. Guess I will put this in the "Frame aficionados Only" file. One thing that does hold the collection together--other than each text's attempting in some way to use fable, personification, or non sequitur to push the boundaries of narrative prose--is a reoccurring theme of death. It's as if death marks a boundary not only thematically, but formerly as well, marking a place beyond which even the absurd cannot pass. My favorite of the texts here was the penultimate, "One Must Give Up." Only there did the form transcend older forms and actually seem to create a bit of experimental frisson.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fen

    After finishing Owls Do Cry last year, I never expected this to be my next Janet Frame book. After all, it is one of her more obscure books, and Frame is largely unknown in the U.S. to begin with. But I found an excerpt from this one, and something about it drew me in, so I made it my goal to track down a copy. Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies is a collection featuring the title novella and a group of 17 short stories. Most of them feature anthropomorphized inanimate objects, plants, and ani After finishing Owls Do Cry last year, I never expected this to be my next Janet Frame book. After all, it is one of her more obscure books, and Frame is largely unknown in the U.S. to begin with. But I found an excerpt from this one, and something about it drew me in, so I made it my goal to track down a copy. Snowman Snowman: Fables and Fantasies is a collection featuring the title novella and a group of 17 short stories. Most of them feature anthropomorphized inanimate objects, plants, and animals, giving the collection a sort of fairy tale charm. But this is not your average book of "adult" fairy tales. No sirree. It is very dark and strange. It was originally published in the '60s and, per the time period, exercises a certain restraint, avoiding the outright macabre. That does not stop it from going into dark territory indeed. In the title novella, a snowman stands by and watches the world around him while a wise Perpetual Snowflake seeks to explain to him human existence. Despite the quaintness of the characters and setting, Frame presents human existence as a mixture of repetition, frustration, futility, and death. But because we are seeing it from the perspective of two non-humans, she also presents it in a very matter-of-fact way. It is almost anthropological, a portrait of a time and place. The snowman, all the same, can't help feel a bit like a person, or at least a caricature of one. His constant repetitions that he is "only a snowman" and his denial that he too will die brings to mind people who choose to exist on the margins, in denial of the reality of their existence. This novella is well-written with many beautiful passages, but is perhaps a bit repetitive and lengthy. Frame's talent is better displayed in the short stories in the second half of the book. Some of these are fully-formed fables similar to "Snowman Snowman," while others are more like sketches. In one, a group of bushes and a garden gate plot to hoodwink the sun, who they believe is biased against some of them for always rising in the east and setting in the west. In another, two rulers decide to outlaw any mention of death. In a third, a man becomes so frustrated with the needs of his body, he simply cuts it off and flies around as a head. They are distinctly surreal, often dark satire. I couldn't help but wonder if Frame was taking some kind of drugs while writing some of them (it was the '60s, after all), but I also couldn't stop reading. Beneath the oddness, there is always something poignant and philosophical, some commentary on human nature that hits very close to the heart. From "The Pleasure of Arithmetic": Arithmetic takes no account of Progress. We are still walking to and fro emptying the sea with a sieve while Love sleeps at the Pole, his measurements carved from ice.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy Gentry

    Why have I not been reading this woman my whole life and where can I get her entire oeuvre.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Lerner

    This is one of my favorite books

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kellan

  7. 4 out of 5

    Frank

  8. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

  9. 5 out of 5

    Flora

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rossella

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danna

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Dubrow

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Gutierrez

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carole

  16. 5 out of 5

    Janet Frame

  17. 4 out of 5

    T

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shane

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yusa

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Knox

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scot Simmons

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joey Halstenson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vance II

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  26. 4 out of 5

    K.b.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Muriel

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  29. 4 out of 5

    Becky Cooper

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Russell

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