*

THE SNOWMAN’S CHILDREN by Glen Hirshberg

Continued from HERE.

Pages 133 – 141

“…one hand wrapping and unwrapping a dish towel around a fistful of forks.”

The see-saw rocks back to root in 1977, and talking about dates, sorry I previously got the maths wrong regarding Theresa’s relative ages. My wife being a retired maths teacher should have been my spur… Maybe maths are important to serial killers and their number-count victims. The Snowman, Batman-desecrators included. Still, this is more of a spreading evil here like ‘Twin Peaks’, not a one-off splurge like catching cancer suddenly from eating cancerous meat. And colours, too, as well as numbers. Black and white. Snow embracing (or creating?) snow-angels. The fear of walking home alone in the blackness. The rumours and the jokers. And the brotherly bunk-talk here: and of other colours, of other friends. Gospel truth. (21 Jul 12 – 8.50 am bst)

Pages 143 – 169

The whole neighborhood became a sort of haunted-house ride,…”

….a Hirshbergamasque, an ice-berg, another Reykjavík spelt correctly, another “math class“, another “Mind War“, the Snowman more of a “Pied Piper” than a Batman or Batman’s Joker…? A balance on the see-saw, this 1977 culmination of horror (frighteningly perpetrated by the author upon the reader) being weighed against the earlier 1994  section of ‘speaking in tongues’ etc: listing as scale-pan outweighs scale-pan, as seesaw-end outweighs seesaw-end. This is a study in that gap between childhood and adults, then and now, awakening sexuality, the growing capability of being unbaby-sat, but later you’re to be the adult and someone else other than you today had been the child?  “…dissolved in the blackness“. The erstwhile “idea bomb” of aurora borealis, too, I infer. Aurora: the Goddess of the Dawn.  The Birthday party. The masks, the role-playing, the archetypal horror image of a face in the window, but then through the window… And the skirted rose dawning, rising up through the centre of the body’s heart… “…I was caught in another one of those chasms between my life and the lives of adults, and there was no one to yell to for help.” (21 Jul 12 – 1.40 pm bst)

Pages 171 – 182

I prowl libraries the way divers search sunken ships, looking for nothing in particular, something old and algae-covered and meaningful in ways I haven’t yet learned.”

Another Hirshbergian conceit I recall from my earlier readings. And with mention of a King book cover I think of King’s Library Police and of Hirshberg’s own book-banks upon the arrival of tantamount to ebooks in other stories of his I’ve read, but in 1994, towards when we list or rock now by “the book-heavy-weight of the library air”, we learn of Mattie’s possession of (or by?) Theresa’s own old notebook with spells and other nonsenses within it that have more sense than given credit for, I guess – all to the backdrop of the banjo-playing of Mattie’s failing marriage and his own ‘fame’ (or notoriety?) in this locale: stemming from Winter ’77… And we inch towards crystallisation, I sense…literally. [And flirtation (a new romantic interest for Mattie in the library or simply for readers who need romantic interest to entice them to read on?) followed by a Twin-Peaksian cafe  with “Apple pancakes, sausage, as much coffee as you can bring me.”] (22 Jul 12 – 10.05 am bst)

Pages 183 – 197

“…Theresa’s face floating in the blackness of the porthole window like a jack-in-the-box underwater,…”

A parallel ‘seeking Theresa’ in 1994 and now here in 1977, as if reality either goes in cycles or is genuinely retrocausal: and via “all this snowflake plankton“, we almost make ourselves vanish and become part of the book instead of its mere reader, i.e. by rubbing snow into our faces to make them empty paper-pages for print to appear there-on.  [Bearing in mind the tragic news from the USA a day or so ago: Wikipedia astonishingly tells me that: “The Snowman is a fictional supervillain in Batman comics.” And our Summer to date in UK is also aptly recorded: “The street was full of mud from a week of rain. In school, we’d been learning about ankle-deep oceans flooding the land during the Cretaceous period and giant creatures splashing through the too-warm world, beginning to die.“] (22 Jul 12 – 11.55 am bst)

[My short short written in 2008: ‘Strangling a Snowman’: http://augusthog.tripod.com/blog/index.blog/1777850/strangling-a-snowman/] (22 Jul 12 – 12.15 pm bst)

Pages 199 – 233

‘Just tell me this. Are we trying to find Theresa? Or are we trying to piece together what happened since we saw her last?’ / For a few seconds, this seems like an important question, and I wrestle with it. Then it melts away like a snowball held too long.”

As we cross-section 1994 with 1977 (and vice versa) in two bites taken as one, the above quotation parallels the whole compelling, page-turning journey that has become the natural sequential of many of the images and emotions and fears and visions that, already, this book has artfully put into place — and to try to be more exact would be to factor in possible spoilers, for both you and me. Real-time reviewing can involve an over-closeness, an over-magnification, a danger of perceiving, say, the Doctor’s collection of masks as superheroes’ abandoned masks hanging on the wall.  At heart, I’d like to keep the Snowman’s ‘tabula rasa’ close to my chest. Just two personal ‘takes’ will suffice: “…Theresa glided into the room. She was listing to the left,…” and “That got my mother distracted at last. She got up and stood before us, cheeks swollen, irises shot through with little red lines, like the shells of bloody eggs.” (22 Jul 12 – 8.20 pm bst)

Been skimming back through the book from where I’ve reached so far (I never skim forward) and I must remember that “Jon Goblin had ruptured his appendix, almost died, and wound up in the hospital most of the winter, which is why I was the only boy at Theresa Daughrety’s tenth birthday party.” (23 Jul 12 – 8.05 am bst)

Pages 235 – 268

I was afraid she was disappearing.”

Even here in 1977, ten years, in actual fact, after my original Linguistic Study of the English Verb (for real during my own student days), I don’t think I could have conceptualised such a tense usage for ‘disappear’, even in the context of an illness.  And I think this graduality of sudden things is what the book is about, the encroaching retrocausal  ‘nemonymity’ (rather than the one-off sudden real-time ‘dark night’) of the soul.  If I told you all the plot’s accoutrements around this theme, you would be ‘spoilt’ for sure!  Suffice to say as well as unexpected objective-correlatives, there are recurring ones of ‘glacier’, ‘crystal ball’, ‘ice-ball’, ‘snow globe’, ‘snow angels’ … and the prose is masterly with careful reader-awakening wordages or hints like the woman passenger in a car who begins to look like a clown. ‘Hogan’s Heroes’, too. And ‘Frankenstein’. — “I felt her return the lean.” Lean or list? And this substantive chapter is unsettling: the only way for good literature to work. The accretive story, i.e. “the first chill of almost understanding”: understanding about The Snowman, child-killer, rampant.  There is a mock disappearance, too, in tune with Hirshbergian role-playing. “I could feel my skin melting off my bones. How do people know, I babbled in my head, that what they feel is an actual feeling and not something they’ve made up?” And it is skin that gives u colour. (23 Jul 12 – 10.45 am bst)

Pages 269 – 293

But all our experts agree that whatever this is, it’s not a code because there isn’t any pattern.”

In 1977, they had no internet. And would the police give back hard evidence like a notebook to a child who didn’t originally own it? A strange world we all lived in then. If you had looked at UK news items on the internet overnight (today in 2012) you will see two girls about Theresa’s age in 1977 went missing in a Manchester park. Thankfully, they’ve now been found ‘safe and well’, but they don’t say what happened to them. The reader is a child vis-a-vis this book, I guess, and Theresa’s earlier cryptic code of a Twin-Peaksian phrase does bear fruit …. literally as well as figuratively. Mysteries, as well as thoughts, tumble down like paddles on a water-wheel, never to be fully solved as each replaces the one before …unless, in the coming ‘1994’ chapter that I’ve spotted but not yet read, explains the I in I, Robot? Or some Bob Dylan song lyrics give an oblique explanation?  Whatever the case, I did note in this chapter how the act of resuscitating (almost midwiving) an almost suffocated/drowned human-being is almost like the victim giving birth to themselves with all the “idea bombs” that childbirth often makes almost any mother suffer.  This the Book of Almost. (23 Jul 12 – 12.30 pm bst)

Pages 295 – 322

I believe in believing,”

If the previous chapter was “not a code because there isn’t any pattern”, this one is not a coda but a “way station“; although it has the air of a coda. An almost almost.  It is also a perfect ending to yet another major reading experience that Hirshberg has provided for me over the last few weeks and months.  As I draw away, allowing the over-magnification to fade or radiate back into a final core vision, I speculate on the scream in this last chapter, and think of Munch, then “Chagall“, but above all of that Canaletto painting, full of figures buzzing about like wasps or “snowflake plankton”, then frozen in some distant panorama of faces within miscegenate jackets, ready to take me home or to the home for inspired readers with “white carpeting“.  I am an inspired reader. That’s my job, being inspired. I have theories about this book’s meaning that I’ve almost crystallised. I’ll leave you yours, too.  Other than one question. Who took the child who took the child? (23 Jul 12 – 1.50 pm bst)

END

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One response to “*

  1. Amazing connection with my next real-time review, i.e. of Alfred Tesseller by DP Watt: http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/the-ten-dictates-of-alfred-tesseller/
    Quote from its first story: “…pelting Alice with those rotten cider apples, alive with the evil chuckle of wasps–”

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