Claudio Morandini’s short, descriptive tale about an old man and a dog is a deceptively simple one. But don’t be misguided by it’s simplicity and lulled by it’s quietude. It has a dark, unsettling undercurrent flowing through it which might catch you off guard.
Adelmo Farandola avoids people at all cost. Living up in the mountains, he prefers his own company to the villagers in the nearby town. He’s grown accustomed to silence and having to adhere to social norms such as basic hygiene. But it comes at a cost. Adelmo Farandola is slowly losing his mind.
Occasionally, after months of solitude, he is forced to venture down the mountain to stock up on basic supplies – bread, wine, cheese and potatoes. After one such visit, the owner of the shop reminds Adelmo that he has already been down for supplies not too long ago and he’s flustered by the realisation that it completely slipped his mind. While walking back he’s followed by an mangy dog which, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t get rid of. Despite his initial resistance the dog becomes his patient companion, one he also has conversations with – and the animal with him. Apart from the dog, his only other contact with a living being is the overzealous ranger who seems to be checking up on him, much to his annoyance.
When winter arrives and an avalanche traps both man and dog inside the cabin for weeks and his supplies run out, Adelmo’s has to take desperate measures to survive. Simultaneously his sense of reality slowly starts to diminish and he gets lost and confused in his own unreliable memories.
When the snow eventually melts he and the dog discovers a foot sticking out from under the snow – presumably one with a body attached to it. But whose body is it and how did it get there?
Morandini’s writing is stripped of unnecessary clutter. It perfectly captures the contradiction of the environment’s beauty and bleakness as well as an atmosphere of impending danger. It’s beautifully descriptive, even the parts that shouldn’t be. Snow, dog, foot is a compact, potent novella will inexplicably stay with you while leaving you perplexed, doubting your own ability to differentiate between reality and illusion.

(Sonja Van Der Westhuizen, West’s Words Book Review)

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