cover image Ice


Anna Kavan. W. W. Norton & Company, $5.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-393-02273-5

Fog and ice and torrential rain dominate this surrealistic novel, blanketing an icicle-like woman from the man who cannot clear his eyes of her image. Occasionally he glimpses her skeleton, fossilized in snow. Twice he stumbles up a mountain to a house where she is guarded by the dictator at whose side she rides in state, at whose headquarters she lives in a bare, padded room, waiting to be assaulted. The obsessed suitor pursues her over a rainswept ocean to a country menaced by nuclear war and an encroaching glacier. Later, he finds her on a beach whose dunes have become ice castles, where the waves are petrified stalagmites. They flee in a car that is now their world, deriving warmth and peace from each other. Only at the end does it become clear that both are aspects of the same self, and that the agony, the blinding light, the uphill climb, the burly guards and the frantic, headlong, aimless hunt are fragments of a drugged nightmare. This last of British writer Kavan's books to be published in her lifetime is lashed with urgency and pulsates with an atmosphere of dread. Foreign rights: Nat Sobel. October