I’ve been on a Georges Simenon mini-kick lately. I had read an assortment of Maigret novels over the years but the sheer size of his backlist — 500 novels, even if many of the novels barely top 150 pages — daunted me, and those Maigrets I did read were, quite frankly, easy to digest and all the easier to forget. Looking for the quality needles in a quantity haystack seemed more arduous than necessary.
But then I read Dirty Snow, Simenon’s 1948 roman dur that truly is as good as advertised, as well other durs like The Blue Room (1963), The Mahe Circle (1944), and M. Hire’s Engagement (1933). And over the weekend I ripped through his 1970 memoir When I Was Old, a (seemingly revised) collection of his notebook jottings between 1960 and 1962, at a time when he said he felt the onslaught of older age upon him and became fearful over a decline in productivity, “only” able to produce 3-4 novels a year rather than the dozen (or, in his pseudonymous pulp days of the 1920s, several dozens) that was his habit.