Friday, October 2, 2015
Book Review: The Glacier
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to readers who enjoy being mind-fucked the entire time (yes, in a good way)
Pages: 214 pages
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio
Released: September 2015
It opens on a forest. The forest lies just beyond the backyards of the homes in a new suburban development. Three surveyors are marking trees in the woods while a boy plays back there. And then the woods are gone, replaced by more vinyl sided homes.
A caterer fills water glasses and salt and pepper shakers in a giant, empty conference hall. She's lost all sense of time and doesn't understand her job though she goes through the motions.
A man has a cup of coffee and inserts the business end of a rifle into his mouth.
Another man hops into his modified ice cream truck and heads into town.
The boy is outside drawing chalk circles on the street.
Jonah, one of the surveyors, is on the side of a different road, doing his surveyor thing, when traffic comes to a standstill. A mushroom cloud appears in the distance and quickly begins to demolish everything around him. A brilliant white light threatens to eat him up until he tells the apocalypse to "wait", and it pauses.
Everyone is suddenly back to what they were doing before, but now with a new, confusing sense of doom and dread.
Was it simply a vision? Or did Jonah actually stop the apocalypse? Are we now following an alternate reality? Or a pergatorial one?
(And no, don't worry. I'm not spoiling anything for you. All of this takes place within the first thirty pages.)
Throughout the remainder of Wood's impressive novel-as-screenplay, we find ourselves asking these questions over and over again as we play the role of observer, watching as each of these small town neighbors continue to live their lives and perform their jobs and interact with each other, all the while haunted by the feeling that something is not quite right. That they, and we - as the reader - are on the cusp of something big, something terrible, some kind of ... event.
Brimming with quiet tension and thick with atmosphere, The Glacier dug its fingers deep into my cerebral cortex. It played me like a puppet - hooking me with its concise language, surreal situations, and unreliable characters. I followed along blindly, more uncertain of what was happening with every turning page yet loving every moment of it and regretting none.