Ice by Anna Kavan

Ice by Anna Kavan

British writer and painter Anna Kavan (1901 – 1968) offers up a suitable winter read: Ice (1967). This book was the last before her death. It’s a rather mighty genre defier, with elements of science-fiction alongside an inventive style of prose. It also falls under the literary slipstream genre, where fantasy meets with other non-realistic concepts.

It’s another one of those apocalyptic novels. Set in a future version of Earth, after a nuclear war a giant ice shelf is gradually engulfing the planet. If this sounds a tad formulaic, Ice really isn’t. There’s a sense of spontaneity with the novel, where coincidence reigns supreme – let’s take a closer look then, eh?


At 158 pages this is more of a novella than anything else. As it’s such an unusual book, we’re interspersing it with the weirdness of ice in general. As it is odd – frozen water. How one day your nearby river goes from unapproachable to another road to walk on.

For Kavan, Ice was a chance to create a world where a male protagonist chases after a woman he spots. The man has issues with his emotions, remaining unable to comprehend how to deal with her.

But the work names no names – we’ve no idea who these individuals are. As with ice, it’s a cold, bleak, harsh, and random world where something can crack. In an instant, it’s all gone. And that’s what Kavan appears to aim for here.

So it’s no surprise to note there’s a dreamlike quality at work here. Its unusual structure, frankly, won’t appeal to many. We struggled to enjoy Ice, although we can appreciate what Kavan was trying to achieve.

It has a postmodern quality to it that borders on pretentiousness. Really, we think George Orwell mastered this type of concept with his classic Nineteen-Eighty Four.

Kavan falls short of that, but she presents interesting ideas all the same – and ones that, for the 1960s, tied in with the counter culture movement of the time. Partilcularly if LSD was your thing. So, Ice is for you, if you’re all about ice.


You may have heard of climate change. You’ve no doubt heard it’s false, too! Those pesky scientists need to define their jobs. So they’re making up all those naughty stats. It’s got nothing to do with oil companies at all! We know. Donald Trump told us. And we agree with his vapid demagogue.

Meanwhile, frozen water is kind of important. It makes up a lot of the other bits of the world. Check out, for instance, The Worst Journey In The World. Humans aren’t made for such landscapes. But, we can attend the places and have a gander thanks to intrepid film crews and scientists.

Kavan’s work offers the inverse of what the modern world faces. But it’s something of a crisis all the same. Nameless voices shouting out into the wilderness hoping to be heard. And if you read Ice, you’ll notice it’s all rather bleak. Is this a reflection on the modern world?

Well, it’s your proclivity. But make your decision objectivitely. Because Trump may be one goddamn handsome SOB (and a self-made one… in the sense his father handed him $60 million to become self-made) but he’s also a special kind of tosser. And that’s ice (nice).


Dispense with some gibberish!

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