Monday, January 12, 2009
The Beautiful Savagery of Snow
I've treasured this book since I first read it in '79. I even love the book's cover illustration; it has a haunting, unsettling quality.
As a piece of writing that totally engages and transports the reader, it is extraordinary and virtually forgotten. It is one of my favorite novels of all time.
Will Holt, the author, composed the song "Lemon Tree" before writing this novel; it was his first.
At a distance, it's a "Disaster" story along the lines of movies like "Earthquake", "The Towering Inferno", and "The Poseidon Adventure". An almighty blizzard chokes Boston and creates hell on Earth. Up close, though, "Savage Snow"is an incredibly raw, violent, beautiful, and realistic tale of human beings driven crazy and to pure primitivism by a storm that isolates them and tests their courage. It's not really about the storm as much as it's about how the storm impacts on people's ambitions and desires. Especially the dark ones.
Holt, clearly drawing from his music business background, creates a totally believable rock band in the story called 'Savannah Sound'. For years after first reading the novel, I was convinced that the band existed. His portrait of them is just so vivid and credible. A sex scene between two members of the band (brothers) and a female groupie is one of the most intense I've ever read. And one of the most erotic. The writer's handling of a huge cast of characters is confident and fresh, as is his action writing.
The book would make a great movie, but you'd have to cut out most of the stuff that makes it so great to get an acceptable rating. More's the pity.
The tragedy is that the book went out of print very quickly.