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Patrick Modiano
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message 1: by Trevor (last edited Mar 13, 2018 11:47AM) (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Patrick Modiano, 1945-

French novelist and screenplay author.

Winner of numerous literary prizes, including Nobel Prize for literature (2014) for ”for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.

-The Occupation Trilogy (La Place de l'étoile, 1968; La Ronde de nuit, 1969; Les Boulevards de ceinture, 1972)
-Villa Triste (Villa Triste, 1975)
- Livret de famille, 1977 (not translated into English)
-Missing Person (Rue des Boutiques obscures, 1978)
-Young Once (Une jeunesse, 1981)
-Memory Lane, 1981 (not translated into English)
-Such Fine Boys (De si braves garçons, 1982)
- A Trace of Malice (Quartier Perdu, 1984)
-Sundays in August (Dimanches d'août, 1986)
-Catherine Certitude (Catherine Certitude, 1988)
- Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas (Remise de peine, 1988; Fleurs de ruine, 1991; Chien de printemps, 1993)
- Vestiaire de l'enfance, 1989, (not translated into English)
-Honeymoon (Voyage de noces, 1990)
- After the Circus (Un cirque passe, 1992)
- Out of the Dark (Du plus loin de l'oubli, 1995)
- Dora Bruder (Dora Bruder1997)
-Des inconnues, 1999 (not translated into English)
- Little Jewell (La Petite Bijou, 2001)
- Paris Nocturne (Accident nocturne, 2003)
- Pedigree (Un pedigree, 2004)
- In the Café of Lost Youth (Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue, 2007)
- L'Horizon, 2010 (not translated into English)
-The Black Notebook (L'Herbe des nuits, 2012)
- So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood (Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier, 2014)
- Souvenirs dormants, 2017 (not translated into English)

message 2: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I have been slowly working my way through Modiano's work. To start things off, here's what I've read, listed in descending order of preference:

1. Sundays in August
2. In the Cafe of Lost Youth
3. Little Jewel
4. Young Once
5. Such Fine Boys
6. So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood

I have been saving some of his more famous ones, like The Occupation Trilogy and Suspended Sentences, but I need to get to them.

message 3: by Dan (new)

Dan Compared to Trevor, I’m a Patrick Modiano novice. I read In the Café of Lost Youth several weeks ago and just finished Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas. Based upon these two volumes, I suspect that Modiano will join a handful of other novelists as my favorites.

I posted a brief GR review of the marvelous In the Café of Lost Youth and another of Suspended Sentences. What’s especially interesting about Suspended Sentences taken as a whole is that the three novellas seem to convey a range of Modiano’s favorite themes: acts of remembering (including creating both real and imagined memories and the impossibility of fully retrieving memories); how memories can emerge as more important than the prior events themselves; the boundaries of identities, how uncertain identities can be and how they may shift over time; nostalgia for a remembered and now disappeared city; and the moral ambiguities of familial and particularly parental attachments as well as collaboration and the black market in World War Two France.

Modiano was born in 1945. I’m struck by how movingly he wrote about the ambiguity of remembering when he was only in his mid to late 40s, when Suspended Sentences was published. Those three novellas strike me as novels that would more likely have been written by a much older person, reminiscing on decades of memories, rather than someone in middle age.

Perhaps one reason that I’m finding Modiano so interesting is that he upends what’s often a common convention, as James Wood writes in The Nearest Thing to Life, that the novel often gives us that formal insight into the shape of someone’s life: we can see the beginning and end of many fictional lives; their developments and errors; stasis and drift.” In Modiano’s fiction that I’ve read so far, the shape of the lives of his characters seem always blurred and ambiguous.

message 4: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 110 comments I'm reading "Cafe of Lost Youth" at the moment and am liking it very much. It reminds me very much of one of my favourite authors - Georges Simenon.

message 5: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
What are the similarities you're seeing, Cordelia? I've read only a few Simenon novels, and I can definitely see the seedy side of Paris coming through for each, but other than that I'm not sure what other ties there might be.

message 6: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 110 comments Trevor wrote: "What are the similarities you're seeing, Cordelia? I've read only a few Simenon novels, and I can definitely see the seedy side of Paris coming through for each, but other than that I'm not sure wh..."

Definitely the seedy side of life. Cafes - but Simenon also wrote about other places than Paris. "Red Lights" was set in America. I think that it is the writing style - an untertoned sort of Noir style. Also the characters - they generally seem to be unhappy or flawed in some way

message 7: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
That’s a great point, thanks! While I have read a few of Modiano’s “crime” novels, I have never quite associated them with Simenon, but what you just said rang absolutely true. Modiano’s noir must be a descendant. Thanks again for elaborating!

message 8: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Has anyone else read Sundays in August? I fell for it quickly and then was left pensive at the beauty of the ending, and I’m very curious if anyone else had a similar experience.

message 9: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 110 comments Trevor wrote: "Has anyone else read Sundays in August? I fell for it quickly and then was left pensive at the beauty of the ending, and I’m very curious if anyone else had a similar experience."

I thought I might read it. Reserved it from the library. Also "Suspended sentences".

BTW The link that you have to "Pedigree" in message 1 connects to Simenon's book, not Modiano's.

message 10: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
Well that’s fitting! Ha! I will straighten that out when I’m back in desktop mode. Thanks!

message 11: by Dan (last edited Mar 30, 2018 11:10AM) (new)

Dan Cordelia wrote: "BTW The link that you have to "Pedigree" in message 1 connects to Simenon's book, not Modiano's."

My apologies, Trevor, this was likely my error.

Trevor wrote: "Has anyone else read Sundays in August?"

After my recent pricy investment in Modiano, I was planning on reading him in chronological order. But I'll bump Sundays in August up to the top of my Modiano pile. Thanks for the tip. And Cordelia, please keep us posted on both Suspended Sentences and Sundays in August.

message 12: by Dan (new)

Dan Cordelia, Trevor, have either of you seen Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien (1974), co-written by Modiano? I believe that it’s the only film authored by Modiano that’s readily available with English subtitles. If I’m incorrect on this, please tell me. In any case, a highly enjoyable film, nuanced and well-worth watching.

message 13: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 110 comments No. I haven't seen it.

message 14: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I have! I watched it long before I knew who Modiano’s was simply because I wanted to watch all I could by Malle. I actually haven’t revisited it since before Modiano’s win, so I still haven’t seen it from that perspective. I would like to rewatch, though, so this seems a good time to put it in line.

message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8493 comments I've read only one, Missing Person. I was very impressed but the sheer volume of his output (albeit individually they are slim) plus a sense that he tends to circle around the same themes, hasn't encouraged me to read more at this stage.

message 16: by Dan (new)

Dan Trevor wrote: “Has anyone else read Sundays in August?"

I recently finished and reviewed it here, and I then read Trevor’s excellent review in M&G. (I suppose that any review that I agree with is, by default, “excellent,” but Trevor’s review really is.)

Like Trevor, I was ”left pensive at the beauty of the ending”. The final paragraph in Sundays in August is one to read and reread, as is this one: ”Anyway, there’s no such thing as ‘events.’ Ever. It’s a false term, suggesting something definitive, spectacular, brutal. In fact it all happened gently, imperceptibly, like the slow weaving of a design into a carpet, like the strolling people passing before our eyes on the Promenade des Anglais.” And how about this paragraph too: ”During the day, everything slipped through our fingers. Nice, with its blue sky, brightly colored buildings like gigantic frosted cakes or ocean liners, its deserted streets in the bright Sunday sun, our shadows on the sidewalks, the palm trees, the Promenade des Anglais—it all slipped past, like a rear projection. On the interminable afternoons when rain beat on the tin roof, we would stay in the moist, musty smell of the room, feeling abandoned there. Later, I got used to the idea, and today I feel at ease in this city of ghosts where time has stopped. Like people passing in slow procession along the Promenade, I accept that I have lost a certain resilience. I am released from the law of gravity. I float like the other inhabitants of Nice. But back then, at the Sainte-Anne Pension, that state was new to us, and we still lurched this way and that to try to fight off the torpor overwhelming us. The only solid, consistent thing in our lives, the sole inalterable point of reference, was the diamond. Had it brought us bad luck?”

As with the other Patrick Modiano fiction that I’ve read, I’m again struck that Modiano must have been a very old soul with a very old soul’s sensibilities at a fairly young age.

message 17: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1842 comments Mod
I'm so glad to see you loved it, Dan!

message 18: by Dan (new)

Dan ”’There were many of us who slept with Germany,’ he confessed, ‘and the memory of it will remain sweet.’”
La Place de l’Étoile is Patrick Modiano’s first published novel(la). I’m glad that La Place wasn’t the first Modiano that I read, because reading it first might have discouraged me from reading Modiano’s later, wonderful novels. Compared to the first novel(la)s of my now favorite novelists—Anita Brookner, Henry Green, Alice McDermott, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth—La Place foreshadowed to me only occasional glimpses of the more mature Modiano. It’s a novella of political and social satire, focusing on Jewish collaborationists in World War II France and their apologias and justifications following World War II. I suspect that many and perhaps most political and social satirical novels work best for readers familiar with the place and time being satirized: after all, can you imagine understanding or appreciating Roth’s remarkably prescient Our Gang if you were unfamiliar with the cast of characters in Nixon’s White House before Watergate? And so it was for me with La Place de l’Étoile: I just didn’t understand enough of its context to understand or appreciate it.

message 19: by Dan (new)

Dan Villa Triste is another great Modiano novel. Here's my review.

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