Monday, May 01, 2006

As Simple As Snow

Gregory Galloway's debut novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story, telling of Anna Cayne, a quirky new girl in town who disappears in the middle of the school year (and the middle of the story). The narrator is Anna's boyfriend, someone whose life was enriched by her presence and who becomes nearly obsessed with finding her once she vanished. Anna is eclectic and well-read, knows an immense range of music, and never stops thinking. She also has the unusual hobby of writing obituaries for everyone in town. But there are some disturbing things about her as well, like some trouble that seems to follow in her wake, and some bruises on her arms. The narrator has no idea what she sees in him, as he thinks of himself as hopelessly bland, but regardless, he is mesmerized by her presence before he becomes haunted by her disappearance.

The title is a reference to a conversation Anna had with the narrator, observing that snow is anything but simple. Also, it's part of the code they developed for each other, for communication from beyond death, just in case (apparently something Houdini had wourked out with his wife).

The telling of the tale is a little heavy on the foreshadowing, which first annoyed me before I realized that a high school narrator would probably write like that. All told, however, it's an entertaining read which can engross you in its clues and mysteries to the extent you wish to be engrossed. There is no clean resolution, just swaths of coincidence and gobs of ambiguity that the narrator can only hope to resolve.
Rating: 8/10.