Pam Houston seems to be an extremely talented writer. It comes as no surprise that “A Blizzard under Blue Sky” is a truly compelling short story (despite the fact that it only spans four pages). The reason Houston is able to draw readers in is because she opens by introducing the underlying topic of the piece, than puts the topic on the back burner to make room for a fascinating narrative, and in the end ties the theme and the tale together without making the connection seem forced. Based on her writing structure, the three key points of “A Blizzard under Blue Sky” seem to be identifying her problems/treating depression, persevering through a near death experience, and then realizing how the two are intertwined.
Houston opens the story by detailing what has got her down in life: there are bills to pay, work to be done, and uncommitted men. The combination of this, and maybe even the haze of winter, made it so that “the machine that drives you is broken” (Houston 284). In the story, the doctor suggested medication to get her functioning correctly again, but Houston was adamant that she would never fix her depression with pills. She came up with an alternative solution: winter camping.
From here, Houston drops basically all discussion about her depression. As a result, the reader almost forgets why she was going camping in the first place. Instead of dwelling, she immerses herself in nature hoping to get the same results as a prescription would have achieved artificially. One quote in particular perfectly describes her healing journey through nature, “when everything in your life is uncertain, there’s nothing quite like the clarity and the precision of fresh snow and blue sky” (Houston 284). Although her initial accounts of winter camping seem jovial and fun (she even mentions that the clarity and the sereneness feels like the fourth dimension). Houston’s experience quickly takes a turn for the worse. The sun creeping behind the mountains... [continues]
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