Sinister Snow, Silent Ice

Conrad Aiken vs. Haruki Murakami

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    August 12, 2014

What do you fear most about snow and ice? Fear of being buried in snow so deep you can’t breath? Fear of snow trapping you far away from others? Maybe you have a  fear of ice freezing you to death. Or what about the horror of  falling through the ice? And maybe these are just symbolic of other fears like a loved one freezing you out, or loneliness, insanity, emotional imprisonment.  I don’t often do themes, but this week I grew thirsty for something chilling for August’s dog days of summer. So, let’s cool down with some secret snow and a very compelling ice man.

Two shorts for you this week: one old and one new by very different writers—Conrad Aiken who brings you into the inner world of the mind, and Haruki Murakami who brings you outside the world of reality. Both stories explore life as it freezes and isolates. Both stories disregard realism, but not reality.

 

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Silent Snow, Secret Snow   by Conrad Aiken (1934)

Young Paul Haselman, twelve years old, is daydreaming about snow. He becomes obsessed with the falling of snow, the silence of it, and its mysterious secret world. He thinks a lot about the Arctic. When his bedroom begins to fill up with snow, the mystery goes deep, challenging reality and imaginary worlds. This story is filled with symbolism and operates on several levels of psychological complexities, imagination, and madness. Have you ever walked in the snow with muffled steps? That eerie sound of being alone in a deep white world? Here is a taste of Aiken’s unforgettable prose:

The snow was laughing: it spoke from all sides at once: it pressed closer to him as he ran and jumped exulting into his bed.

 “Listen to us!” it said. “Listen! We have come to tell you the story we told you about. You remember? Lie down. Shut your eyes, now—you will no longer see much —in this white darkness who could see, or want to see? We will take the place of everything . . . Listen—”

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Listen, the author says. Can  you hear snow falling? Is it soothing or threatening?

Read Silent Snow, Secret Snow at VQRonline.org.

 

You can watch the film (Rod Serling’s Night Gallery). This version is on the Twilight Zone Network, produced by Gene Kearney.

 

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Conrad Aiken (1869-1973) was a poet and novelist, not known for horror literature, but this story certainly fits as one of the most mysterious tales and has been widely anthologized in many horror and fantasy books.

 

 

 

 

The Ice Man   by Haruki Murakami (1991)

 

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In this short story a young woman falls in love with an ice man. When stories have a magical power like this one, you won’t forget it.

“I first met the Ice Man at this ski resort hotel. I guess that’s the kind of place one ought to meet an Ice Man.” …

Don’t you ski? I asked the Ice Man, trying to sound as casual as possible. He slowly raised his head. He had an expression on his face like he could a hear the sound of wind blowing from incredibly far away. He looked at my face with eyes like that.”

It would a crime to reveal any more about this amazing story. Surrealist fiction can sweep you away into a delicious world. I’ve featured it here today because while this is not horror, it is about the present, the past, and the future in a fantastical and highly mysterious way. The complexity of loneliness, and becoming ‘frozen’ are themes that this author Murakami handles with such beauty, I found myself in awe. There is no missing the fear growing inside the complexities.

You can read The Ice Man here at Tab.spyang.com

Want more of Murakami? His collection of short  fiction is in Blind Willow, Sleeping Willow on Amazon.com

The Ice Man was published by The New Yorker in 1991. Murakami is an award-winning contemporary Japanese author, his works translated into fifty languages. In an interview at The Paris Review (The Art of Fiction) he spoke about his writing:

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“The good thing about writing books is that you can dream while you are awake. If it’s a real dream, you cannot control it…. In my books and stories, women are mediums, in a sense; the function of the medium is to make something happen through herself.”

 

His latest book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is newly released by Knopf.

 

HERE’S SOME NEWS …

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My latest adventure has been to review books on Amazon.com. I now have over 50 book reviews of fiction, horror, short stories, and nonfiction. Stop by if you like to read reviews. And if you like my book reviews, be sure to hit the YES “Was This Review Helpful to You” button.

My reviews are not plot synopses or character sketches. They are usually short capsules of my personal experience with a story.

 Paula Cappa Reviews on Amazon

I also post on Goodreads. I invite you to friend me there!

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

 Sirens Call Publications

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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2 Comments

Filed under fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror

2 responses to “Sinister Snow, Silent Ice

  1. Hi Jay,
    I did not see your post on The Ice Man back in 2012, but after reading it today I can say that you make some really fine points about the story. I too had such a chill about that locked past. And you’re right about Gertrude Atherton in that most people don’t know her work or have long forgotten her talents.

    The Bell and the Fog is a perfect story for writers, like myself, who explore characterizations and creativity for fiction because Orth is so creative an author within the story. I think Atherton was ahead of her time when she describes Orth’s concept of the creative gift: “Possibly there are few imaginative writers who have not a leaning, secret or avowed, to the occult. The creative gift is in very close relationship with the Great Force behind the universe; for aught we know, may be an atom thereof. It is not strange, therefore, that the lesser and closer of the unseen forces should send their vibrations to it occasionally; or, at all events, that the imagination should incline its ear to the most mysterious and picturesque of all beliefs.”

    I don’t think many wrote about these “unseen forces” behind the imagination in 1905.

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  2. Jay

    Ooh… The Ice Man! One of my favorite Murakami stories (and I have several). I don’t remember if we were following each other back when I blogged about it but it’s at http://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/days-of-the-ice-man/ if you want to take a look. The concept of ice locking away “the past” really grabbed me in that story.

    I haven’t read or heard of the other story you feature. I’ll have to take a look.

    P.S. (unrelated) I recently read my first Gertrude Atherton (“The Bell in the Fog”) and loved her writing! I first heard of her here at Tuesday’s Tales of Terror… 🙂

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