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Dirty Snow

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,439 Ratings  ·  181 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
27th out of 423 books — 511 voters
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Best Books of Georges Simenon
1st out of 81 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 06, 2011 David rated it really liked it
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Oct 06, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
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?

Mar 12, 2016 William1 rated it really liked it
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. This is collaborationist Vichy France. 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 ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Ted rated it did not like it
1 1/4 perhaps

M’sieur, could I have a word please?
Yes, what is it?

We notice that you recently finished reading Dirty Snow. Would you care to answer a few questions about it?
Yes, I would like that. I think it might be more useful to me than you can imagine.

Well, first we have seen that you initially gave it 4 stars, then changed it to 2. Why was that?
I think my initial rating was a result of not wanting to appear dim-witted. But after a considerable amount of thought, I realized that I couldn’t g
James Thane
Feb 23, 2012 James Thane rated it liked it
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
Jan 24, 2015 AC rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 28, 2012 knig rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 15, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 10, 2012 Ken rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing  ·  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 it was amazing
Recommended to Alan by: notgettingenough
Shelves: novels, read-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2011 Unbridled rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2014 Melanie rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 28, 2016 AlcoholBooksCinema rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This snow is black. No reparation for wrong, just existentialism brimmed with an intensely atmospheric psychological crime noir that makes you bleed with a lost and lonely beastly character who is brutal but never impolite. Written at a phenomenal pace, this is an exhilarating and terrifying book that will make you feel gloomy when you start reading it, leave you all torn up when it's over, and then you start looking for something that will help you slow down your thoughts.
Dec 28, 2008 Aaron rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
Mar 02, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 20, 2016 Mala rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mala by: Vollmann
3 stars. The extra star is for the Vollmann Afterword.
Bro_Pair أعرف
Sep 01, 2015 Bro_Pair أعرف rated it it was amazing
I started an experiment of reading books based off whether I like the author, picking a book, and reading nothing about the plot, not even what was on the back cover. The experiment was a success! I have a resentment against Camus and Sartre for reasons not entirely clear to me, except to say that Sartre is soooooo borrrrrrinnnng (yes, that matters and is a valid complaint) and Sartre is sooooooo humorlessssss (also, in my opinion, valid). I wouldn't call Simenon humorless, exactly (exceedingly ...more
Jun 18, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it
DIRTY SNOW. (1948). Georges Simenon. ****.
Written during the Occupation of France during WW II, this novel follows the life of Frank Friedmaier, a 19-year old young man who lives with his mother in the whore-house she runs. Frank has secret urges to be or become someone of importance, but hasn’t really figured out how to do so. As the book opens, Frank has just borrowed a knife from a friend, which he uses to kill a man called the ‘Eunuch,’ a petty official of no real importance. He killed him f
Nov 11, 2009 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 08, 2012 Ginny_1807 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanzi, be, noir
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
Luca Lesi
Feb 15, 2015 Luca Lesi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2012 Michael Flick rated it did not like it
Shelves: worst
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jul 16, 2011 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
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 it was amazing
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 really liked it
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
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more of this genre.... 1 4 Jan 31, 2016 12:26AM  
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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...

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