Adelmo Farandola lives by himself as far up a rocky Alpine valley as possible. He hasn’t showered or changed clothes for as long as he can remember and he’ll do anything to avoid people. When a stray dog starts following him, Adelmo reluctantly takes it in and a strange relationship develops as they struggle to survive the brutal winter. Anyone with a soft spot for books set in wild mountains will love Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini. A bestseller in Italy, this quirky, darkly comic book about a grumpy loner losing his mind is a surreal little gem.
It’s the superbly described love-hate relationship between the dog and the man that carries this story. Grudgingly, Adelmo finds himself enjoying the company of, even depending on, the animal. As his minds goes, reality and imagination blurs and when a human leg is found poking out of the snow, neither the reader nor Adelmo know what to believe.
Snow, Dog, Foot made me think of the exquisite A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler and the wonderful Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Nobel Prize winning Olga Tokarzcuk. Not necessarily in their literary style, but in their poignant portrayal of reclusive mountain people living at the mercy of nature.
If you’re off to the mountains this winter, or as compensation if you’re not, read this little novel about loneliness, growing old and finding love in unexpected places.
Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini, translated by Jessica Ockenden is published by Peirene, 124 pages.