Reading Matters

Scene in ‘Lila’ better than Charlotte snow

Charlotte Observer

Look. I’m from Miami. I was hoping for more snow. Lots more. It’s what I look forward to all winter. Gazing out the window and seeing huge drifts. It’s happened a couple of times since I”ve lived in Charlotte. I loved the silence. The quiet elegance. The beauty.

So, instead of the real stuff, I’m having to get my drifts of snow from fiction.

If you haven’t read Marilynne Robinson’s award-winning 2014 novel, “Lila,” this winter is a good time to do so. There’s a scene late in the book when a very pregnant Lila and her elderly minister husband wait out an Iowa snow storm in the kitchen, each trying not to let the other know how scared they are the baby will come before help can arrive.

“Then in the middle of the night it began to storm, and the next day they sat in the kitchen for the warmth and played gin rummy and listened to the wind howling. No one came to look in on them because the drifts ere too deep to walk through and the wind was fierce. People can get lost in a storm like that and just die in the road outside their own gate the way they might if they were wandering through country they’d never seen before, where nobody knew them at all, nobody was waiting for them. The old man would pretend he wasn’t praying, and then his head would sink down on his chest and she would have to wait until he remembered to deal the cards. The deck would just spill out of his hands as if he’d gone to sleep or died. THen he’d say he ought to clear a path to the rroad and even get up from his chair, but the road was so deep in drifts there’d be no point in it. There’d be nowhere to go if he ever got to the road. The telephone wires were down and the electrical l iness, too, but they had the woodstove and a kerosene lamp and Mrs. Somebody’s meat loaf to warm in the oven. It would have been nice except that she was so pregnant and he was so old.”