‘It is falling on all creation,’ Eoghan Smith writes at the start of A Mind of Winter. ‘On the roof of the Lawlor cottage, and on the narrow track that leads through the garden ... it is falling on the bare overhang of the ash and horse chestnut trees.’ Finally, the blizzard falls on the narrator, a man named Fox, who has collapsed in a frozen field while on his way to visit his old, dying academic mentor.
The rest of the novel is an investigation into Fox’s state of mind in the lead-up to his death. The path to his collapse is deliberated over, the truth hidden in streams of consciousness and behind digressions. Fox, like the cold season, inhabits a frozen life; he is obscured under the snow as he is by depression and the passage of time.
Smith does a wonderful job of conveying the half-baked thoughts and grievances of a disaffected intellectual, and the images of winter are especially crisp: ‘Every so often, ten or twelve glides or so, I would slow my pace to hear ... the soft carelessness of the snow dropping on the