Season’s Readings

Ah, families and the holidays, the seed for many great stories. And we’ve got them here—friend, foe, mistletoe.

Let’s start by joining Rick Bass in Fairbanks in “Ice Fishing,” where he reminds us that family and fish are the catch of the day. Speaking of family, Jacqueline Jones LaMon’s “Wild Snow” takes us to a moment when a woman watches her son’s girlfriend’s footprints become erased by the winter wind. What could the mother have done to turn fate in a different direction?

James Joyce’s classic “The Dead” is a must-read this time of year—or any time. Full stop. Joyce’s people come in from the cold to gather for a holiday party that is anything but ordinary—indeed, where the night’s menu is love and mortality and wonder, and the irrevocability of fate. And what of holiday tales that are so painful, they are almost unbelievable? In Vanessa Hua’s “A River of Stars,” an immigrant’s fate depends on whether a judge will think her story is true.

Let’s visit Ruth Stone’s “What We Have,” a look at an impoverished childhood that was rich in so many ways. And, as the winter solstice approaches, the moon in Jim Harrison’s “Weak Winter Sun” urges us to slow down and take a closer look. For there’s no denying winter is here. Or, as Dean Rader in “Frost on Fire” writes, “Winter finds everyone, even though / We spend our whole life eluding it.” So come, let’s embrace the season, and see what new, rich stories it brings.