‘Snow’ by James Lasdun

I collect stories that share titles. Of those entitled ‘Snow’, my favourite, even better than those by Jayne Anne Philipps, Ted Hughes and Miles Tripp, is James Lasdun’s, which appeared in his collection The Silver Age (my copy of the film tie-in repackaged edition of this, Besieged, is signed by Lasdun to ‘Paul. Christmas 2007’, but I’d like my copy of The Silver Age back, please, whoever borrowed it). In ‘Snow’, the narrator’s great uncle has a wife 26 years his junior and when ghastly neighbour Mr Morpurgo comes calling at Christmas and makes eyes at her, she, it seems, cannot resist his leather shoulder patches. The story turns on an image of footprints in the snow that is one of the most beautiful images I’ve ever read: “The snow on the garden was pristine, except for a dotted line that ran across the centre from our house to the one opposite, like the perforations between two stamps seen from their white, shiny backs.”

First published in The Silver Age, Jonathan Cape, 1985, aka Derilium Eclipse, HarperCollins, 1986, and also in Besieged, Norton, 2000. Also published in The Paris Review, Fall 1987, and available to subscribers to read online here
Chosen by Nicholas Royle. Nicholas is the author of seven novels and three collections of short stories, most recently Ornithology (Confingo Publishing). He has edited twenty anthologies and is series editor of Best British Short Stories (Salt). Reader in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met, he also runs Nightjar Press and is head judge of the Manchester Fiction Prize. Read Nicholas’s full Personal Anthology and other seasonal contributions here.

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