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? would it take winning a nobel prize for us to notice an author
? do the french have a unique weary perspective on modern life
? does our current age provide us more information but less certainty
these 3 novellas provide an introduction to patrick modiano
his moody, almost foggy stories are well known in europe
his recent nobel prize generated many new english translations
john keats ( 1817 ) negative capability
"...man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries and doubts
without any irritable reaching after fact and reason..."
french history provides many episodes of moral compromise and exhaustion
the episodes leave is an indelible residue of spiritual and intellectual uncertainty
modiano knows this world well and makes it come alive for american readers
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
These three novellas capture a melancholy but intriguing sense of the past in and around Paris. The narrator--who seems the same person in all three tales, an alter ego of the author--relates incidents from his childhood and early adulthood, when he was thrown in with mysterious characters, some shady, others alienated, all fascinating. He is something of an observer, more than a participant, in their lives. He's the young fellow who catalogs the amazing photographs of Jansen, as Jansen disengages from Paris and his friends and lovers. He's the 10-year-old, dropped by his traveling parents for a year in a Paris suburb with three rough women, women with male callers who do little favors for him and his brother and who create a loving ersatz household around him. And then in the third novella, he sits alone at a restaurant table on Sundays observing a group of glamorous but unsavory regulars at the table nearby, thinking about an unsolved possible crime from the 1930s.
Listening to the novellas, sometimes you miss important details because the narrator drops them in deadpan fashion and moves on. He is like a puddle-jumper, landing briefly on exotic islands and taking off again, with just a few important scenes before he shifts to another anecdote.
But the stories are so well written! The narrator is very likeable, and you root for him as he grows up and tries to make his way.
The three readers were all excellent. Bronson Pinchot reads the last novella with a heavy French accent. For those of us who watched him on television as Cousin Balki in the sitcom Perfect Strangers, you might think it's the same goofy character, his accent is so thick.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful