The Stain on the Snow
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The Stain on the Snow

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  936 ratings  ·  128 reviews
At nineteen, Frank Friedmaier is thief, pimp and murderer. He has never known his father, his mother keeps a brothel. His mind is cold and inhospitable. But Simenon reveals the obsession with self-torture that lurks within it, and explores the intricate psychology of a young criminal, even lending the repellent Frank a chilling grandeur as he faces remorseless interrogatio...more
Paperback, Crime Masterworks series, 240 pages
Published 2003 by Orion (first published 1951)
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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...more
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
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...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...more
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
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.
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.
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
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".
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...more
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...more
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.
Michael Flick
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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
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...more
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 give it 4 star...more
Oct 27, 2008 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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...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...more
Nino Frewat
To read Simenon in his native language; to grasp his world, to indulge in every word he carefully selects, to capture his elusive characters is, without a doubt, to be privileged.

The story is narrated by an omni-present narrator from the point-of-view of its anti- (or is it modern?) hero, Frank Friedmaier.
Even though Simenon is one of the most respected crime writers, his plots are rarely constructed in the traditional crime or detective novel method. There are no shrewd detectives, no elaborate...more
Oliver Twist & Shout
Se podría decir que hacia el tercer cuarto, quizá ya después del "golpe de los relojes", la novela sufre una pájara considerable y la amenaza de una caída en picado flota en buena parte de las hojas que siguen. No obstante, el renombrado giro final, sin duda le hace recuperar unos cuantos enteros. Es impactante pero justificado. Además, también me gusta esa falta de afectación y cursilería con la que está escrita la novela, cuyos mimbres, en manos de otro escritor más zafío, podrían haber sido u...more
Penetra nel profondo questa neve di Simenon. Agghiaccia. Qui non c'è l'analisi dell'uomo comune, del compagno di lavoro, del vicino di casa, del marito o della moglie - pur con le loro perfidie che portano in certi casi a situazioni estreme - ma ci si avvicina al filo dei pensieri e alle azioni di un ragazzo borderline all'inizio e outcast alla fine. L'analisi è spietata e cruda. A tratti ho provato le stesse sensazioni di quando lessi Trilogia della città di K. della Kristof che mi ha così scos...more
E’ il secondo Simenon che leggo, il secondo senza Maigret.
Mentre lo leggevo non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare quanto sia magistrale Simenon nello scavare nelle pieghe dell’animo umano, sporco come la neve che ricopre il paesaggio vago ed indeterminato che fa sfondo alla storia, un paese soggetto ad occupazione straniera, realizzando uno studio introspettivo del protagonista di una tale profondità che ti senti risucchiato nella sua mente. Frank è ancora un ragazzo, ha diciannove anni, ha alle...more
Wow. An incredible journey that takes the main character Frank from self-destruction to redemption. Frank, is an 18 year old, in an occupied country during WWII. He lives with his mother in a whorehouse and spends his time with thuggish losers. He's angry and without direction and so starts on a course that leads to his inevitable demise. He carelessly commits crimes and throws around money and seems to want to get caught.

He finally is caught and is brought to a school being used as a prison. Th...more
Erik Grotz
I love Simenon and fell in love with his writing when my Grandmother introduced me to one of his many Maigret mysteries when I was a teenager. Since then, I've discovered the depths of his other (non-series) writings and feel much more intrigued and amazed by them. This book is one of the best so far. This is solid noir, dark and mysterious as the inhabitants of the cafes in an occupied city. The protagonist is as far from a hero as you could mention, and yet you feel drawn to follow his every m...more
Keeping up with the dark books of 2008, I read a few books by Georges Simenon, a prolific author who wrote an inhuman amount of books (something like 400). For years he's been known for his detective stories staring his Inspector Maigret, which are supposedly masters of the kind. But he's also had an underground reputation for a series of noirs he called "romans durs" (literally, hard novels) of which Dirty Snow is the best one that I've read.

Dirty Snow follows a young violent thug who kills -...more
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NYRB Classics: Dirty Snow, by Georges Simenon 1 5 Oct 22, 2013 06:53PM  
  • Fatale
  • Moravagine
  • Mouchette
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • Nightmare Alley
  • Alien Hearts
  • Proud Beggars
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Witch Grass
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Hard Rain Falling
  • Sunflower
  • The Big Clock
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • On the Yard
  • My Fantoms
  • Don't Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne Du Maurier
  • The Pure and the Impure
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
More about Georges Simenon...
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By The Yellow Dog The Strangers in the House Three Bedrooms in Manhattan Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett

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