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Dirty Snow (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2003
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April's Book with Buzz
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“What many regard as the finest of all noir novels…"--Tim Rutten, The Los Angeles Times
“Dirty Snow is an astonishing work....a bleak masterpiece, its darkness is as William T. Vollmann writes in a perceptive afterword, 'as solid and heavy as the interior of a dwarf star.'” --John Banville, The New Republic
“Dirty Snow is both exhilirating and taxing: exhilirating because it frees the reader to imagine unthinkable acts of violence and degradation and, if not to approve of them exactly, then at least to better understand their origin; and taxing because of the effort it takes to even visit Simenon’s nihilist world for a while. ... Dirty Snow has an eerie locomotion, an eerie appeal.” --Bill Eichenberger, Columbus Dispatch
“Simenon may not have thought much of humanity, but few writers have captured its squalid core the way he did.” --Time Out New York
“Extraordinary… Simenon demonstrates a rare mastery"--Anita Brookner
“A Master storyteller… Simenon gave to the puzzle story a humanity that it had never had before.”--Daily Telegraph
“The best mystery writer today is a Belgian who writes in French. His name is Georges Simenon.”--Dashiell Hammett
“A truly wonderful writer… marvellously readable, lucid, simple, absolutely in tune with that world he creates.”--Muriel Spark
“One of the very few novels to come out of German-occupied France that gets it exactly right.”--Hans Konning
“The great master of unease”--Marcel Clements, International Herald Tribune
“The gift of narration is the rarest of all gifts in the 20th century. Georges Simenon has that to the tips of his fingers.”--Thorton Wilder
“At his best, Simenon is an all-round master craftsman- ironic, disciplined, highly intelligent, with fine descriptive power. His themes are timeless in their preoccupation with the interrelation of evil, guilt and good; contemporary in their fidelity to the modern context and Gallic in precision, logic and a certain emanation of pain or disquiet. His fluency is of course astonishing. His life is itself a work by Simenon.” --Francis Steegmuller
“Georges Simenon is more than prolific. His psychological intensity and compression of style mark him as a leading writer of the Century.”-- The New York Times
"Georges Simenon is a recent discovery for me -- not the Maigret books, but what Simenon called his "romans durs", such as "Dirty Snow" and "Three Bedrooms in Manhattan" -- and hard they are indeed. The latest of these New York Review Books reissues, "Tropic Moon" (translated from the French by Marc Romano) is a dark masterpiece set among French colonials in heart-of-darkness Gabon in the early 1930s. Cruel, erotic, frightening and superb." -- John Banville, The Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Frank Friedmaier, the protagonist of Georges Simenon's novel "Dirty Snow" seems to have no doubts about his life. In fact he seems to be more a creature of base animal instinct than of anything resembling thought. If he has doubts about anything they are not evident. But his words and deeds bespeak an unconscious despair so profound that the reader can feel it with every page.
Simenon was nothing if not prolific in both his literary and public life. Born in Belgium in 1903, Simenon turned out hundreds of novels. Simenon's obsession with writing caused him to break off an affair (he was prolific in this area of his life as well) with the celebrated Josephine Baker in Paris when he could only write twelve novels in the twelve month period in which they were involved. Although perhaps best known for his Inspector Maigret detective novels, Simenon also wrote over a hundred novels that he referred to as `romans durs' (literally "hard novels"). "Dirty Snow" is one of Simenon's hard novels and to call it noir is an understatement. "Dirty Snow" is darker than noir, devoid of any light or optimism. In the hands of Simenon it is an absorbing (entertaining seems an inapt word) look at the darker side of life.
Frank Friedmaier lives in his mother's brothel in a small apartment building. The brothel is in an unnamed city in occupied France during World War II. Frank divides his time between the brothel and a local bar inhabited by an assortment of shady characters that include low level criminals, women of `easy virtue', and the occasional German soldier. When he returns home at night he camps down with whichever one of his mother's employees suits his fancy. What follows may best be described as nasty, brutish, and short.Read more ›
There is no political resistance, no underground. No one speaks for the city or nation which is occupied. There are some citizens whom Simenon shows knowing and offering love and mutuality. The authorities could be municipal police as easily as military secret police. The protagonist, Frank, a 17year old hoodlum, thief, thrill-killer, and accessory to murder, is the son of a madam who lives with her girls in an apartment house. Frank is determined to test himself and his inner resources, and the way he chooses, maybe the only way available, is to prove he has the power to remain unmoved by various cruelties and evils he perpetrates. He does what he does by free, rational choice, in cold blood and without remorse. He's hard boiled to the core. And yet, clearly at the end of the book he punishes, and has punished, himself. He is in search of a father (Mr Holst) and a lover (Holst's daughter Sissy), like every young man, but he deliberately puts himself beyond the reach of them, or of any kind of life. He wants to be tortured, and sees himself as wanting and deserving death. I'm not sure exactly what happens to Frank at the end, although he may be about to be executed. Somehow Frank had defined love and fatherly affection as weakness, or perhaps as experiences shut off to him by the very fact that he is the young man he is. Puzzling, noir, mysterious. And a powerful existential novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It takes a while to get into the story, or to relate to the protagonist, a character seeming to be without emotions, who reacts to all situations as if he doesn't care. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marz
A depressing run up to a inevitable conclusion. Not a spark of surprisePublished 2 months ago by Maureen A. Meyers
This was a quick read for me. Love the NY Sunday Times book review, and in their weekly author interviews a few weeks ago the interviewee stated Dirty Snow was the best book he... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tess P
Frank's mother, a former prostitute, runs a bordello the side-benefits of which save Frank from the deprivations of the occupation. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Paraducks
A compelling character study of an amoral young man living in his mother's bordello in a country under Nazi occupation. His compulsions lead to crime and incarceration. Read morePublished 4 months ago by RCK
In perhaps his longest novel full of stark, chilling contrasts, Georges Simenon (GS) composed a near-total evil person in the shape of Frank (almost 19), son of brothel keeper... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Alfred J. Kwak
In addition to his world famous Inspector Maigret detective series, Georges Simenon wrote a number of straight novels that he called "romans durs. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Roger Brunyate