Yesterday as I was shovelling out a path from the cabin to the car the thought came to me, What about building a snowman? The snow was so perfectly packable and clean. But then just as quick, a terrible fear of the idea… because, you see, I’d just been reading The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, which depicts a viscious killer who employs snowmen in the course of his work. And this book activated my fear center so much I only reached page 40 before I actually hid the book in a different room. Fight or flight? I’ve already flown. Who knows when I’ll go back.
Even today, gazing out the window at the birdfeeder, at the pretty female cardinal plumping herself from branch to branch of the magnolia against the peaceful background of deep snow… did you say snow?
The snowman! Oh, no…
And this coming from someone who recently wrote a novel about a mad killer who likes the taste of human flesh.
What is it that causes one tale rather than another to terrify a particular person? I remember as a teenager having to put aside The Lord of the Flies, after turning the pages in bed at night, it struck me with such force. Nesbo has said he relates to that book: “The first novel that I made my father read to me was Lord of The Flies by William Golding. A Nobel Prize winner. I wish I could say I chose that book because I have good taste, but I liked the cover. It was a pig’s head on a stake.” From an interview with The Millions last year.
Nesbo has said The Snowman’s his scariest story, and it’s really horror-crime. The writing is smart, crisp and yet earthy at the same time, and the whole cold world of Norway draws me in.
I may have to finish The Snowman. But not at night.