My reading life began with my parents’ bookshelves. I would read anything with a naked woman on the cover. I picked up the 1967 Picador edition of Ice with its image of a pale girl at the foot of a flight of stairs and read it breathlessly in a way that mostly eludes me now. It was so new to me, a sort of apocalyptic not-quite-science fiction that crackles with erotic violence and dread.
Some people see the book as a metaphor for Kavan’s heroin addiction. I think that is terribly neat and boring. It’s unfortunate that a writer’s biography has to be laboured over, especially if that writer is a woman. But Kavan systematically destroyed personal correspondence and diaries in an attempt to resist precisely this. What a writer, and what a vision. What a perfect book to read in preparation for the end of the world.