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The Stain on the Snow
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The Stain on the Snow

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,751 Ratings  ·  221 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 1948)
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Glenn Russell
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In the world of novel writing, Georges Simenon was a natural, a kind of Mozart of the novel. He quit school for good as a teenager, never participated in a writing workshop, never enrolled in a writing program and never attended a writing class. With his innate ear for language and dialogue, eye for detail and feel for storytelling, all he needed was four dozen freshly sharpened pencils lined up on his desk and a “Do Not Disturb” sign to hang on his door. And presto – a first-rate novel written
Sep 10, 2011 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
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
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Dostoevsky, Camus, Kafka, Céline…
Dirty Snow: a withering parade of apathy, it languishes and eventually disintegrates in a desolate gray landscape of inscrutable uncertainty. (A perfect summer beach read.) Eighteen-year-old Frank, the fiercely vacant antihero, is a callous, arrogant thug. He commits increasingly depraved acts, determined to prove that he’s an emotionless killer who doesn’t give a shit about anything. This desire, of course, reveals that he isn’t quite as indifferent as he likes to think he is. It takes him a wh ...more
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?

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
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
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 24, 2009 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.
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: notgettingenough
Shelves: novels, read-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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".
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Παρόλη την ασάφεια κι αβεβαιότητα της ιστορίας είναι χειρουργικά ακριβές. Ίσως από το ν' αγαπάς ή να μισείς είναι καλύτερο να καταλαβαίνεις.
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bro_Pair أعرف
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
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kind of wish that it were longer, or I were a slower reader, but I guess you can't polish polish.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mala by: Vollmann
3 stars. The extra star is for the Vollmann Afterword.
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
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more of this genre.... 1 6 Jan 30, 2016 08:26AM  
NYRB Classics: Dirty Snow, by Georges Simenon 1 8 Oct 22, 2013 06:53PM  
  • Fatale
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • The Big Clock
  • Nightmare Alley
  • Alien Hearts
  • Hard Rain Falling
  • The Expendable Man
  • Proud Beggars
  • Mouchette
  • The Pilgrim Hawk
  • Moravagine
  • Peasants and Other Stories
  • The Erasers
  • Sunflower
  • The Slaves of Solitude
  • Rogue Male
  • Black Wings Has My Angel
  • Irretrievable
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...