July 5, 2012 Book Reviews












By Selma Sergent


Ginger Moran is a teacher, published writer and mother. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston in Literature and Creative Writing and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English from the University of Virginia. She has published in Salon, Oxford American, Literary Mama, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Feminist Studies, and other journals. She has written three novels, a collection of essays about her years as a single working mother, and a nonfiction book.

Her novel The Algebra of Snow. A Bedtime Story For My Mother  published by Main Street Rag Publishers has been nominated for a Pushcart Editor’s Choice award.

Ginger Moran had me at the title of her book. Gushing and effusive as it may sound to say it, I loved The Algebra Of Snow. It moved me. It resonated with me. It left an impression.


Amelia’s mother died when she was six. She is a mathematician who spends summer in the Adirondacks and decides to continue her stay there into the winter with only her two dogs for company.

Amelia has been slowly withdrawing from the world for years; a withdrawal initiated in part by the loss of her mother, interrupted briefly by her marriage to her Yeats- reading husband Donovan, then further fuelled by his infidelities.

It is a winter of solitude. As Amelia begins her descent into a rich but troubled inner life, the snow begins to underpin everything.

“Snow is now a secure part of the landscape. It seems inevitable, built-in…”

The snow comforts as it repels. There is an algebraic expressiveness to it, a sense of ritual, a symmetry, pulling together states of sorrow, loss, loneliness and madness; formulating them, equating them until a sum of their parts is conceived, intricate, complex as a snowflake. There is geometry in the snow, higher dimensions, meaningfulness, sacredness.

 “The snow has begun to fall almost without end. Its hushed sizzle is a kind of music that accompanies my work.”


Amelia’s estranged husband visits her at Thanksgiving. They spend hours in bed together. His visit could have been a reprieve of sorts, it could have halted Amelia’s descent halfway down, but in the end his unfaithfulness is too far-reaching.

The scent of the reprieve lingers when Amelia finds she is pregnant in the cabin in the snow, writing letters about her life to her dead mother; hopeful, less troubled… and then the baby is gone.

Moran describes the pain of this loss in such a way that it is visceral, so deep-seated it is almost preternatural in its fierceness.

“…it is entirely bittersweet, the purest irony I have ever known. It gives the greatest pleasure of one’s life as it takes it away. If it is there when I die, I will follow it as a child’s eyes follow the light, even as he or she ought to resist, cry out, to rage, until the illumination is utterly gone and the child with it.”

The descent, then, is unstoppable, inevitable.

“It is empty, but there are no regrets over its emptiness; regret would count, be a positive number. And that is what I am empty of. Nirvana, then, is absolute zero. I am very close to it.”

Amelia’s journey breaks her down to an almost cellular level. The constant, corrosive acknowledgement of her aloneness pushes her to extremes, filling every thought with ghosts of the past, a deteriorating sense of self and the search for meaning. But as with every withdrawal into the inner landscape of the mind there is a type of healing that comes with it, mythic, a perfect manifestation of the sacred.


Some people refer to algebra as the science of restoring what is missing. That is what happens to Amelia in her cabin in the snow. The battle between, the entwining of inner and outer landscapes restores her, subtracting what is missing and adding what is lost. In the end the snow expunges, providing a clean slate, a brand new place to start.

“The landscape is monochromatic; not only is all the color washed out but all sound has been hushed by the hiss of snow.”

There is a metamorphosis, a renewal, unsullied as just fallen snow.

Ginger Moran says –

“ I have always been fond of transformation stories….”

And I have always been fond of stories that transform… deeply fond.




The Algebra Of Snow. A Bedtime Story For My Mother is published by Main Street Rag Publishers. You can buy it here. http://www.mainstreetrag.com/GMoran.html

You can learn more about Ginger Moran at her website www.gingermoran.com or follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/gingermoran or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/gingermorancom/202633029809427




Selma Sergent

I am a former teacher and musician. I have worked as an editor and writer for several small publishers in Sydney, Australia. I have had some short stories published, as well as two plays. I also mess about with fiction on my blog. Once I was a hairsbreadth away from a publishing deal with a major publishing house. I have too many full length novels in my filing cabinet waiting to be submitted. I understand the vagaries of the writing life yet remain passionate about writers and writing. The world with all its flaws continues to inspire me.


1 Comment

  1. Lisa Tener July 31, at 14:36

    I'm with you--I loved the Algebra of Snow and it's title drew me in as well.


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