Snowbound or the Tale of Two Situations
|Title:||Snowbound or the Tale of Two Situations|
|Author(s):||M. Fae Glasgow|
|External Links:||online, the bleak ending; online, the happy ending|
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It was published in Bene Dictum #1 and is online in two versions.
This story was the winner of a 1992 STIFfie Award.
From the publisher of this fic:
Snowbound is one of those pieces that grew unpredictably and in a controversial direction. Originally it was meant to be a moderate tale of sado-masochism, one of the Glaswegian's 'particular perversions'. However, after the first draft was done, M. Fae decided to discard it as a lie. She felt it was too politically correct and not the way the characters wanted to go. So back to the keyboard to begin again.
There are now two separate versions and the reader will have to make a choice of what and how much of each to read. This is a warning: the story M. Fae wanted to write consists Nobody's Fault, It Was...., ... the Worst of Times, and Little Doyle.
Read these four pieces if you do not mind rape presented without apology. If you do not wish to read a strong rape story, then read the alternate series which has no rape: Nobody's Fault, It Was... the Best of Times.
And stop. If you intend to read both versions, then please do so in the correct order and at different times. Everything all at once would be too overwhelming and would make little sense.
Comments by the Author: 1993
About Snowbound... Well, it's not h/c, but it is in reaction to a number of stories that quite a few people consider to be h/c.None of us can stop or sit in judgement of anyone else's taste in stories (not that that's going to prevent us, of course!), and one fan's cup of tea is another fan's iced tea with lemon (utter sacrilege that), but I had really reached the end of my endurance with stories which were, to me, nothing but endless hurt and useless temporary comfort. Now I can at least understand why people like h/c, but then, well, it was all Greek to me--and positively tragic! Plus, it's one thing to be understanding of h/c, it's another thing to like it. I didn't like it, and I still don't, on the whole. And I especially hate things like Master of the Revels and Murder on the Moor, where it's time after time after time, with neither one of them learning a damned thing, repeating the stupid, self-destructive behaviour again and again--culminating in a worse-than-usual hurt that leads to true love and eternal commitment. This, needless to say, got right up my nose. There was this itch, and the only way for me to scratch it was to do a story where I took my perception of these sorts of novels, and explore the kind of personalities it would require to actually go through these patterns of behaviour and still come out the other end *more* in love with the other person. To my way of looking at it, the only personalities who would ever enter into such a relationship and then knowingly and willingly stay in it had to be somewhat less than entirely well adjusted--or had to be, perhaps, maladjusted in a way that made them happy, the conventions of the world be damned. I still can't read Master of the Revels, Murder on the Moor or, most of the time, Arabian Nights without wincing and getting that itch again... 
Reactions and Reviews
'Snowbound', with the three or four parts (not the alternate, but the rape chapters) was excellent, in that it showed the raped and the rapist can both be victims of their own emotions to the end. It was a realistic portrait of two men emotionally dysfunctional. But both are happy in the end so who's to judge if it's a detrimental relationship or not? 
In Heat Trace, something of the same thing is going on, although for the most part unrecognized by the characters. But Doyle does at one point tell Bodie that "I think this must be one of those abusive relationships." He is talking about exactly the pattern that M. Fae set up [in "Snowbound]: Doyle makes Bodie angry (although this Doyle, unlike M. Fae's, does not invariably consider that his own fault); Bodie blows up at him (although this Bodie, unlike M. Fae's, does not physically strike him); and Doyle forgives him. Both Helen's and M. Fae's Doyles have disastrous self-images, although Helen's Doyle does not fully succumb to self-hatred until after he and Bodie break up. Both suffer and come back for more. At one point Helen's Doyle even wonders if he is fundamentally masochistic, and concludes that "he could face the idea. But if so then there must be better masters in London than Bodie.""Snowbound" was an extremely disturbing story because it brought the abusive pattern into the forefront of the story, rather than sublimating it, and because it left the characters still in that pattern at the story's end. Their relationship passes through rape to regular beatings, and what disturbs many readers is Doyle's contentment with the situation. Such an ending is unique in slash. The accepted pattern, in stories motivated by this kind of escalation of emotional hurt, is that a climactic, cathartic upheaval, an ultimate crisis, will serve as a sort of white-hot cleansing fire, from which the characters will emerge purified. The ultimate violence of their first and last forgiveness frees them from the cycle of mutual hurt, lets them descend from the emotional rollercoaster and stand, panting but free, on stable ground. M. Fae's innovation was to declare the rollercoaster stable in itself. 
Re: yrcts to [S], from which I inferred that you think Glasgow's "Snowbound" is a hurt/comfort story? If that's what you meant, well...it isn't. It's a rape story. Domestic violence. A "domination for real" fantasy story. Your whole essay, in which you think you're addressing h/c, really seems to be addressing rape fantasy, domestic violence, etcera. And while I don't want to burst your bubble or anything, I loved "Snowbound". Viscerally. It (particularly "The Worst of Times", to which I'm most pointedly referring in my comments here) pushed the overwhelming majority of my kink buttons, and there was nothing intellectual about it. It was overpowering domination, complete objectification, unlimited power from Bodie's point of view; it was deserved punishment, from Doyle's, for being the "spoiled rotten brat that he was." Whatever happened, he felt that he somehow deserved it. He didn't want it, but he was compelled to suffer through it for other psychological reasons. Very sexy. Fantasy-wise, I get a rush off the concept that the 'object' or 'victim' has no choice whatsoever. I wrote a longish comment on the sexual appeal of rape fantasy and the kind of personality to whom it might appeal in response to some questions/comments of [N], in TNU # 11, or 12. I'd like to suggest that you go back and read it, if the subject might interest you. Additionally, I'd be glad to share with you my own theories about why I like this stuff.
Based on [L's] and M. Fae's tribs, I'm wondering if I'm confused. It's my understanding that there are rape stories, and there are h/c stories. Rape stories can be h/c stories, but they aren't h/c by definition. The only condition in which a rape story is also h/c is when, for example, Doyle gets gang-banged by L's camping bikers , and Bodie has to comfort him—when the rape is the "hurt". It's never a function of hurt/comfort stories, in my understanding, that the "hurt" portion come from one partner to the other. That's domestic violence, or rape, etc
With respect to your hypotheses about the enjoyment value of "Snowbound"...weli, since your premise is, I think, wrong, it's sort of pointless. I also noticed a level of real discomfort in reading your essay-like analysis, for a couple of reasons. One, it read like a class paper instead of your opinion. Two (and much more importantly in my eyes) I felt like you misrepresented my kink (and, by extension, me). You were analyzing a style of story like "Snowbound" and calling it h/c. First and foremost, I am nor a hurt-comfort pig and I think I resent being classified as one! I'm more twisted than h/c readers, and am the first to admit it. I like humiliation, domination, objectification, powerlessness, choicelessness, struggle. H/c doesn't really cover that stuff.
Additionally, you're making hypotheses about my character, my emotional-psychological make-up; I'm your "people who did enjoy 'Snowbound'," subject group, and I didn't like it. Sorry. I'd have much prefered hearing what you personally think (about rape fantasy, domestic violence, h/c, whatever), rather than what you imagined others think—or that you polled people who do like it and assessed their answers rather than thinking for them wrongly.
I've never seriously asked myself if I "have no trouble being sadistic". Nor have I seriously asked myself if I'm a masochist. I think part of why I'm offended is that you're implying I must be either or both to like rape or violent stories. Maybe a big part of my problem with your assumptions is how emotionally loaded words like "sadism" and "masochism" are. They bring "SM", and leather and whips and little cozy societal sex games, to mind. Decadence. Everybody getting what they want. I mean, in their broadest sense (the taking of sexual pleasure from being humiliated or hurt—yep, that's me; the taking of sexual pleasure from hurting someone else somehow—yep, that's me too, the archetypal sadomasochist then, I guess—a "real" sadomasochist—and only in fantasy) I guess the definition applies to me. Maybe I just don't like its connotations, I dunno. Am I completely off base to think that when the words "s&m", or "sadist" or "masochist" are used today, they tend to refer to leather scenes, consentual sex games and people doing what they want to do?
Consider for a moment another hypothesis, that the devaluing experience of objectification is a potentially "true" statement about the object's view of itself. In "Snowbound", Doyle really did feel he deserved what he got, that there was some intrinsic "badness" in him. I think there's a psychological difference (and probably it's only a shade of grey) between the masochist who wants to feel the pain, who's proud of what he can take (many of M. Fae's stories, & Shoshanna's), vs. the masochist who hates the pain but has an emotional experience of deserving the punishment, or being compelled to accept undeserved punishment for psychological reason. I don't know the answer to that one, so I'd love any information you have. Are both of those states of being just different sorts of masochism? How about the guy who doesn't give a damn about whether he's inflicting pain? I'm recalling Bodie in "Snowbound". His behavior is an appropriate response based on his world-view. Bodie doesn't even care; Doyle's problems are inconsequential to his demands that he be pleasured in whatever way is best. Doyle gagging makes Bodie's cock feel good, and that's all the value Doyle gagging has to Bodie. Total power. Is that the same as the guy (or girl) who sees the leather-clad masochist begging to be whipped and says 'sure, okay, I'll whip you because you want it'? I'm oversimplifying this, aren't I?
I don't know; I don't even know how to further address this. I'd love feedback on what I've confusedly written herein. Let's definitely talk about it more later.Regarding your confusion of h/c and rape, violence, etc., at least one practical distinction I can make for you between stories like "Snowbound" and stories like "Mojave Crossing" (an archetypal SH h/c) is that the characters in h/c stories don't hurt each other. Accidents happen. Catastrophes. They get hurt by outside forces. Tests of their commitment to each other come from places considered beyond their own personal controls. It's an entirely different cup of tea, in my understanding. Fantasy rape stories aren't cathartic nearly as much as they are a statement about the establishment of absolute power, absolute objectification and absolute animal satisfaction from that domination (wouldn't be much point in having absolute power if you weren't sure you deserved it, and if you didn't enjoy it). Lezlie's trib last issue addressed this very well. 
Short review: I admire MFae Glasgow's realistic writing. There are pleasant readings like "Jingle Balls", quieter, very special settings like "On thin ice or Skate expectations" and "Whish I wasn't here". I especially like her characterisation of Doyle, he's strong and sharp and resolutely. The fiction gave me more insight in his character as I'm more focused on Bodie's character usually. Some of her fiction is not the stuff you have a pleasant relaxing evening with, like "The call of nature" that's extremely bitter or the non-professional story "Question Time".
For "Snowbound or the Tale of two Situations" is an alternative "happy" ending available. The author took extreme liberties on both characters here. I felt very uncomfortable from the very beginning with the characterisation of her Bodie. Only the original ending makes sense to me. The happy ending baffles me, I cannot link it to the first half to the story and the characters as they were presented there.I'm curious how other readers felt with this story and the two endings. 
Oh, geez, I still remember when I read that for the first time and how *creepy* I found it.
While I can imagine a turn to violence between the two, I don't like M. Fae Glasgow's characterisations here: Doyle seems like a prissy little spinster, while Bodie acts out his caveman tendencies - neither of which I can remember ever seeing onscreen.I've never read the 'happy' version of it, simply because I've no nerve to go through all the nerve-wracking psychotic stuff that goes before the sex again
Yes, I agree the characters are extremely stretched here. I'm not one that reads fics with the view of the canon police, I can stand extreme deviations from canon if the story is interesting. But you clearly don't enjoy reading this. It's a painful insight what the back side of the "true love"-medal can be.
Saying it up front - the Bodie and Doyle in these stories are quite different from the Bodie and Doyle you see on the TV screen. And yet...
These stories have a fascination for me that goes beyond their canon credibility. Part of this is MFae's skill as a writer in creating atmosphere (in this case, quite claustrophobic - there's no possibility of running out the door here). Part of it is my kink for BDSM smut and my interest in stories that look at the balance of power between 2 characters.
It's a little more than that, or I don't think I would be drawn back to them so often. She says she wrote the more vanilla one first, then decided it didn't work (and I agree it's the weaker of the two, which is interesting in itself) and wrote the "Little Doyle" version. I can't help thinking that she deliberately wrote this story with several levels. There's a kind of triangulation between playing with the characters (who knows what Bodie's background was really like, or what darkness lurks under the surface personality), with the audience/readers and their presumed tastes in smut, and with real social issues like rape and domestic violence. Completely wicked, of course!Anyway, this is one reason the darker version of the story works better for me. It's far more 'realistic' take on the theme and leaves the reader (well me, anyway) thinking about the broader implications of the final section long after I've finished it. 
The author doesn't write for fun. She has got messages, topics that are in a number of her fics. As a man not coming to terms with the fact that he might be gay.
She is a very clever and skillful author. As you said she creates moments of great intensity, wonderful hot passion and eroticism and than in the end she slaps the reality in our besotted faces like an ice cold flannel. If you read something with a happy ending you're lucky; often enough at the end there's a nasty little sentence that suggests that probably everything will not be quite all right. Sometimes I'm twisted between admiring the writing or hating it for being so cruel. There's great drama and emotion but nothing is constructed or over the top- it's very competent told, reveals some of the painful truth of life. Part of it is my kink for BDSM smut and my interest in stories that look at the balance of power between 2 characters.Yes I think that's something that's especially well done and exciting in slash fiction and I too like to read stories, that analyze this. I also enjoyed reading the Grievous bodily harm trilogy. Thank you for your comment
- comments on Virgule-L, quoted with permission (November 9,1993)
- from Short Circuit #11 (December 1992)
- from the essay by Shoshanna titled Angst and emotional dynamics in slash, as exemplified in Helen Raven's "Heat Trace"
- Possibly a reference to the fic Rough Ride.
- comments by Michelle Christian in Strange Bedfellows #3 (November 1993), quoted with permission
- 2008 comments at CI5hq
- 2008 comments at CI5hq
- 2008 comments at CI5hq
- 2008 comments at CI5hq
- 2008 comments at CI5hq