“The Iceman”
by Emma Cline
from the August 23, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

I haven’t read one of her novels, yet, but from her stories I can say that I never quite know what to expect from Emma Cline. Her last story to appear in the magazine was “White Noise,” a strange but rather captivating story about Harvey (clearly Harvey Weinstein) thinking he could make a come back by adapting Don DeLillo’s famous book. This is quite different from what we got in “Son of Friedman” and “What Can You Do with a General.” What is clear is that Cline is not afraid to take on big people and big events, often getting us uncomfortably close.

I write all of the above having not read a word of or about “The Iceman,” and at this moment I’m very excited to see what Cline does here. I simply don’t know what is in store, but I’m interested in seeing where she takes me.

Let’s start this together — here is the first little bit:

First, he readied the King and the Queen.

A quick pass with a Lysol wipe around their molded-plastic surfaces before returning the pieces to their proper place on the oversized chessboard. Each piece came up to his knee. Sam had never seen a hotel guest actually play chess on this huge board. He had seen guests pose for photos, though, cradling the pieces in their arms or pretending to be mid-move, faces frozen in faux contemplation. Once, Valeria politely chased after a bachelor party that had absconded with a pawn; she found it in the hallway of the North building, abandoned among all the stinking room-service trays.

Okay. I still have no idea where we will be going or just whom we’re dealing with, but I of course have seen plenty of these chess sets never being used.

I have moved on and read the next few paragraphs, so I know we’re following a man named Sam and that Sam works at some hotel or resort. Nothing about Sam makes me want to keep reading, but somehow Cline has got me interested nonetheless.

I hope you’ll share your thoughts below when you finish the story!

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