The Only Good Thing About Winter Is This Story Written in Snow
Shelley Jackson’s snow story is now in its fourth year, and its eleventh sentence
The east coast of the U.S. recently had its first major snow of the winter, which sucks in almost every conceivable way but one. The silver lining: the continuation of author Shelley Jackson’s story written in snow, which was started back in 2014 and, four years later, is still only a few sentences long. (This might be a wildly different story if we were in Iceland, but Jackson lives in New York, a city with an average snowfall of 25 inches per year and falling, and the story is written one or maybe two words at a time.)
Jackson, who has been experimenting with the forms of fiction for more than 20 years (her hypertext novel Patchwork Girl is a classic of the genre, and her story “Skin” is only published as tattoos—although she has also written two standard codex books, a novel called Half Life and a story collection called The Melancholy of Anatomy), is now entering her fourth winter of carefully embossing serif letters into light snowfall. Before this weekend, the most recent sentence, composed entirely during a snowfall in March, 2017, cut off in the middle:
There are snows that, conceiving a more perfect snow, never fall; doubtful snows that, after a few overtures, withdraw into themselves to think; snows that, addressing us at a myriad points, compose from
We now know that the sentence continues “these transactions a.” What comes next? We may not know until it snows again.
In the meantime, you can follow the snow story as it unfolds on Instagram. To whet your appetite, here are the first six sentences, which run from January to March, 2014. So far, to be fair, the tale doesn’t exactly have a rollicking plot; it’s more along the lines of Borges’ catalogue of animals. But who knows what might happen with the next snowfall?