“The Thing in the Snow”

It’s kind of hard to write about a book like “The Thing in the Snow,” as a lot of what happens in it is very unimportant. By design, this book recounts the absurd and dull. It concerns itself with three caretakers at a remote facility in a perpetually snow bound landscape who perform absurd tasks, like checking to see if doors close normally. And then, one day, one of them spots a thing in the snow. 

My notes are filled with little details from the book; the arrival of a ‘health specialist’ who screens the caretakers and offers varying levels of healthcare based on people’s willingness to pay is both amusing an on the nose. The narrator (named Hart) reads a series of novels called “The Leader Series” which are a set of action novels who’s protagonist relies on ‘effective management’ to resolve the crises he finds himself in, the rants of the one remaining researcher who is there along with the caretakers… but these points are almost unimportant. What matters here is both the writing, which uses Vonnegut-esque repetition and absurdity extremely well. 

That having been said, I can imagine it driving someone bats. There’s no real resolution to anything and what few revelations do occur are actually kind of… not real revelations. The titular thing in the snow is just a McGuffin, and while the book has a story, it really does not have a plot. 

What it did do is make me laugh. Frequently, and out loud. I can’t think of many books that actually do that.  However, that’s not it’s sole purpose. There’s also a fair number unsettling moments. I’ve seen some folk call it a horror novel, but that’s not accurate. It revolves around a central mystery which is, in effect, pointless. There’s no ongoing sense of danger, if for no other reason than the narrator isn’t afraid of anything that’s going on. He simply walks forward, driven by an ongoing desire to be a good manager.

It’s the first book of the year that really impressed me, and I think it’s worth your time. Unlike a lot of the heavy, long, denseness I favor, this is fairly compact. In addition, the writing is excellent, and while there’s ultimately no real conclusion, it all has a strange momentum that keeps it from stagnating. Worth the time spent. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: