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Dirty Snow

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,211 ratings  ·  154 reviews
Nineteen-year-old Frank Friedmaier lives in a country under occupation. Most people struggle to get by; Frank takes it easy in his mother's whorehouse, which caters to members of the occupying forces. But Frank is restless. He is a pimp, a thug, a petty thief, and, as Dirty Snow opens, he has just killed his first man. Through the unrelenting darkness and cold of an endles ...more
Paperback, New York Review Books Classics, 272 pages
Published August 31st 2003 by NYRB Classics (first published 1948)
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New York Review Books - Classics
20th out of 413 books — 405 voters
Dirty Snow by Georges SimenonThe Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Georges SimenonMonsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges SimenonRed Lights by Georges SimenonThe Strangers in the House by Georges Simenon
Best Books of Georges Simenon
1st out of 81 books — 38 voters

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Community Reviews

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Simenon's ecstatically bleak Dirty Snow teeters on the fulcrum between four and five starness and only just barely comes to rest on the four star side. A lot of hand wringing and soul searching went into this rating (or at least two minutes' worth), but in the end I concluded that the only quality Dirty Snow lacks is that ineffable something-or-other that makes a novel grab you by the balls and shout, 'I'm a five star book, damn it! Hearken to my greatness!' The first thing I want to say about D ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Manny rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the human condition
Recommended to Manny by: notgettingenough
- Ladies and gentlemen, watch carefully. Here's Frank, a young punk who lives in his mother's brothel in occupied France. He lies, drinks, steals, does black market business with the German officers, commits murder just for fun. Yes, feel free to touch him, he fucks his mother's girls every night while treating them like shit and is also trying to seduce the 16 year old virgin who lives across the hall.

Are you still watching... you may check that there is nothing up my sleeve... and now, using o
In his afterword to this novel, William T. Vollmann opines "As technology and corporatism impel us more and more to treat one another like things, loyalty and decency approach irrelevance, except between intimates, and sometimes even then." Dirty Snow is certainly a book that compels a reader to feel much the same as WTV does about what happens to the human soul in the trash compactor crush of Money and Civilization - but there are many books that tell this story. So why read this one?

James Thane
Frank Friedmaier is not quite twenty years old. World War II is raging but for some reason that is never specified, Frank is a civilian and not a soldier. His country, apparently France, has been occupied by enemy forces. Most of the citizens are barely scraping by, but Frank lives in his mother's small whorehouse which caters principally to officers of the occupation army. Frank, his mother and the mother's whores have ample food and other necessities. Mainly, they have ample coal to stay warm ...more
This is quite brilliant... I found the ambiguity of the ending unsatisfying (or too extended), and so 4.5 stars. Still, Simenon is clearly a much more important writer than I had ever imagined him to be.

The interrogation sessions seem more Stalinist than Hitlerian, and I wonder if that was not intentional, Simenon havinhg been a well known antisemite and Collaborator, and so probably a strong anti-communist.

Finally, the treatment of sexuality is quite robust -- hardly surprising, again, given
Second reading. Frank Friedmaier is hell-bent on destruction. Son and chief procurer of the local brothelkeeper, his mother, Frank is nineteen years old and a sociopath of the first order. The men Frank admires the most are black marketeers, thieves, and murderers, men who brag about snuffing women during sex. Frank starts his descent by killing a fat policeman of the occupying army who shows his avid courtesies to the local whores. But murdering the Eunuch is just practice, a preliminary, and F ...more
Eighteen year old Frank precipitates a Faustian (self) deconstruction in 1940s Nazi occupied France through a series of emotionless and cold blooded crimes: just because he can.

Allegations of the dehumanizing meta-force of war on the psyche have been made elsewhere: I do not concur. The Occupation provides a blurred panorama of props only for unleashing of the Furies: the protagonist was always going to be the apotheosis of a nature over nurture existenz. Any and all allusions to ‘Officers’ or
Such a vile fucking book that by the end, notwithstanding Vollman's excellent afterward that allows a bit of introspective breathing, you feel like staying indoors quietly soaking in a tub of rubbing alcohol. Or drinking it. Simenon created with Frank F. a stunning portrayal of whatever kind of human Frank F. is supposed to be. Dirty Snow is about as dark as they get.
The subtitle of Dirty Snow should have been, Take That Camus! While not a specific counter-punch to Camus’ L’Étranger, Simenon’s dark story of a murderer with no regrets shares a similar bent, neither pulling any punches with the reader. Maybe that is why the book, along with Simenon’s The Widow, which was published in the 40s as well, is so often compared to Camus first masterwork. While L’Étranger is infused with Camus’ humanistic worldview and the influences of his Algerian upbringing, Dirty ...more
Sep 24, 2009 notgettingenough rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in sociopathy and existentialism
Shelves: modern-lit
Of Simenon's important - that is, non-Maigret - work, this is the finest example. P-leeease don't think that because who-dunnits aren't your thing that this side of Simenon is to be dismissed. The man is a literary giant of the twentieth century. Honestly.
Dec 17, 2010 Alan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alan by: notgettingenough
Shelves: novels, read-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Having read one Inspector Maigret book, I did not understand how favorably Simenon measures next to any other writer of the 20th century. Almost 200 books is a state of authorship that leads to mixed results, but as a writer, Simenon's never a bore - he's a chronicler, an entertainer, a shifter, a grave digger, an adventurer, a truth seeker, a cruel-cruel eye - a craftsman's craftsman. Dirty Snow is not a Maigret money maker, not a commercial novel, but one of Simenon's 'literary' works; and wha ...more
Dirty Snow is an extremely contained narrative that unfolds with intriguing subtlety and patience. I was fooled into thinking it was coming at me straight and even.

Fred Freidmaier experienced the same slip-trick, poking destiny with a stick, kicking at the pure snow looking for corruption and finding that the game has bigger players that have nothing to do with blood and sport.

At first I found the prose clumsy, (until I caught the rhythm), the characters pale and uninteresting. This changed in
Have been recommended other books by the author in the past and just couldn't gel with them for some reason. But this book had one of the most repulsive and compelling characters I've ever come across in my reading life....Frank. It's Frank's lack of fear that makes him such a chilling, complex and frightening character.

A dark and bleak tale of woe, a touch of mystery (I've been wondering which character "dobbed") a country and system under Occupation and the lengths a person will go to survive.
i felt like my skull ought to have been bleeding by the time I finished this book. In many ways reminiscent of The Stranger, though far more insightful and developed, and consequently far more devastating. Considering the pace at which Simenon churned out product, it's amazing he found time to write something as fully fleshed out as Dirty Snow, a work that simply crushes the life out of anything else masquerading as "crime fiction".
Mar 27, 2012 Tuck rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: noir
is frank friedmaier the darkest character ever created in fiction? could be (though this dude alex in stamm's "7 years" is pretty vile Seven Years though also, we sort of know WHY alex is a douche while with frank, there is just a big blank). set in wwii occupied city, we don;t know where exactly, nor by whom, but DO know the occupation has succeeded in turning each and every soul into a brutal monster. there has been much talk about what simenon was trying to accomplish with this novel, but one ...more
Bleak. Very, very bleak. Frank is truly the real rebel without a cause. The first two-thirds are absolutely gripping. The last third loses a little bit of steam but picks up for the dialogue scenes and the end.

I don't think I've ever read so accurate depiction of self-destructive behavior. The whole book is an extended cry for help by the protagonist--but fascinating because Frank doesn't consciously want help. He has no pity for himself or others. He has a code but it is a code that he himself
Frank, il protagonista di questo noir psicologico, è un ragazzo di diciannove anni che per avviarsi “alla vita” e per emergere dall’anonimato di una squallida esistenza in un ambiente degradato, sceglie la via del delitto.
Come se avesse frapposto uno schermo invalicabile tra le proprie emozioni e ciò che lo circonda, tanto il rito iniziatico dell’omicidio, quanto la serie di crimini gratuiti che commette in seguito, sembrano non scalfire minimamente la sua freddezza e il suo cinismo.
Simenon af
The prolific Simenon's gritty and savage noir, set in a perfectly cast and portrayed occupied Paris during an unspecified period of the Second World War. Simenon's amoral protagonist takes the hard route to an understanding of the power and meaning of sacrifice and love. Lean, mean and brilliant.
Luca Lesi
Sempre neve sporca, tutta quella neve che pare marcita, con tracce nere e incrostazioni di detriti. La polvere bianca che ogni tanto si stacca dalla crosta celeste, a mucchietti, come il calcinaccio da un soffitto, non ce la fa a coprire quel sudiciume
Un grande romanzo di George Simenon, profondo, capace di sondare in profondità l'animo umano nella sua forza e nelle sue debolezze. Personaggi semplici ma dai quali l'autore scava un mondo di pensieri, atteggiamenti, comportamenti tanto da farci se
Michael Flick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Not often can you say of a novel's protagonist that he amounts to nothing more than a human shit stain. Frank Friedmaier is a nineteen-year-old, fledgling career criminal living in an unnamed city in Nazi occupied France. In the opening scene he commits his first murder, an act he feels that like losing his virginity he needs to get out of the way. Other crimes and one repulsive act of betrayal follow, but what ties the reader to the book is Frank's abhorrent life and the convincing picture of l ...more
Jan 23, 2009 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
whoa! not what i was expecting! after simenon's the widow, i assumed this similarly-premised book wouldn't amount to much, but i was totally wrong...

first and foremost, this is TOTALLY fucked up. as in proceed-with-caution level fucked up. after the first 100 pages, i was briefly tempted to abandon it on account of its vile-ness. but it uses its atrocities to its advantage. this is truly the sort of masterpiece only an asshole could write - full of accurate, hopeless observations about life at i
Oct 27, 2008 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Noir kids and gangster goons
Recommended to Jim by: John Banville
Dirty Snow is the story of a pestilential punk in an impoverished city occupied by foreign forces. Simenon never tells us what city or if the occupiers are Nazi Germans or American “liberators” because that would take away from the awfulness that is Frank Friedmaier. Frank hates his gangster friends and their thuggish acquaintances even as he strives to impress them. He hates his mother who runs a whorehouse out of their apartment even though it allows Frank to live like a prince while everyone ...more
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Ahhhhg.....Simenon....This book was built up extremely well through at least its first half. And then from the random, albeit expected, arrest, it lost steam. Simenon is by no means inept with psychological studies, but this one stalled in the prison cell, in my opinion. There is the Kafka-esque situation of why, why, why, no answers as to what is going on, I can live with that. But by the time the semi-redemptive catch at the end was turned on, most of the book's power had already left me. Papa ...more
Yes, I did give this five stars, but I wouldn't say it's the feel good reprint of the decade. If you're looking for uplift, you might want to hold on picking this one up. If on the other hand you are fond of the most extreme Jim Thompson novels but yearn for cleaner writing than the too often pickled Mr. Thompson provides, and you think Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground is the cat's meow, go ahead and dive into this mini wading pool of cyanide.

The afterword by William Vollmann is a useful com
Dave Morris
I never quite know if I'm using the term antihero correctly, but I offer Frank Friedmaier for your consideration. Frank is 19 years old, but he's gone far beyond the moral event horizon where a character like Pinkie Brown, damaged angel that he is, still hovers. We're only a few pages in before Frank has committed a spur-of-the-moment murder for motives that not even he knows. He has no pity, especially not for himself, and doesn't even attempt to turn on the charm that makes us root for an utte ...more
L'immagine di copertina rappresentata dal quadro di Maurice de Vlaminck, Saint Maurice Les - Charencey spiega molto quello che Simenon vuole dire e quello che si intende con il titolo di questo romanzo.
"La neve era sporca" è un romanzo angoscioso, inquietante, un romanzo in cui personaggi, come Frank, un giovane solitario, scontroso che non sa amare e la madre che gestisce una casa di appuntamenti, sono caratterizzati da una sorta di sudiciume, di sporcizia. Nulla è puro, essenziale, nulla è pa
All'inizio non mi sembrava volesse decollare ed il personaggio di Frank proprio non piaceva e mi sembrava non avesse alcuno spessore.
Ha una struttura diversa rispetto a quella del classico giallo in quanto si sviluppa solamente a livello psicologico: molti delitti (di diversa specie) ma nessun crimine irrisolto; di irrisolta c'è solamente la psicologia di Frank, ma quando il romanzo subisce l'impennata ecco che il personaggio di Frank si scopre un velo alla volta fino ad arrivare al suo nucleo
Erwin Maack
Terminei a leitura no dia do aniversário do autor. Foi, de fato, uma verdadeira comemoração. Para mim foi a grande descoberta do poder do boa escrita. E muito mais que isso. Da análise profunda da alma, do interior,do sopro vital do ser humano. E o livro ficará de pé, sem dever nada para nenhuma outra obra que eu conheci até hoje. O poder de emocionar o leitor, de fazê-lo compreender que a diferença existente entre um criminoso, oportunista e traidor, e um homem comum ordinário, é nenhuma no que ...more
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NYRB Classics: Dirty Snow, by Georges Simenon 1 5 Oct 22, 2013 06:53PM  
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Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75
More about Georges Simenon...
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By The Yellow Dog Pietr the Latvian (Maigret, #1) The Strangers in the House Three Bedrooms in Manhattan

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