In this essential trilogy of novellas by the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, French author Patrick Modiano reaches back in time, opening the corridors of memory and exploring the mysteries to be encountered there. Each novella in the volume - Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin - represents a sterling example of the author's originality and appeal, while Mark Polizzotti's superb English-language translations capture not only Modiano's distinctive narrative voice but also the matchless grace and spare beauty of his prose.
Although originally published separately, Modiano's three novellas form a single, compelling whole, haunted by the same gauzy sense of place and characters. Modiano draws on his own experiences, blended with the real or invented stories of others, to present a dreamlike autobiography that is also the biography of a place. Orphaned children, mysterious parents, forgotten friends, enigmatic strangers - all appear in this three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists.
Shadowed by the dark period of the Nazi Occupation, these novellas reveal Modiano's fascination with the lost, obscure, or mysterious: a young person's confusion over adult behavior; the repercussions of a chance encounter; the search for a missing father; the aftershock of a fatal affair. To listen to Modiano's trilogy is to enter his world of uncertainties and the almost accidental way in which people find their fates.
? 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
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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.
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Each of these 3 novellas is an entertaining voyage bizarre, like cruising through the dreams/nightmares/memories of an elderly Parisian "blissful idiot," as he was labeled in the eponymous novella by the édenté matriarche excentrique of his "foster family" full of females/underworld paramours in a post-WWII Paris brothel.
This was worth buying, IMO (4.2 stars); but I'm not part of a redneck agenda.
Sean Runnette was, as usual, excellent. Arthur Morey, bless him, has the nerdiest voice on Audible. And I wish Bronson Pinchot would go back to the start of his career to remember why he didn't do accents. He's so caught up shuttling the French accent that he's nearly impossible to understand.
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Superbly written reflections of time gone by. Reminds me of Marcel Proust. I recommend the novellas without reservation.
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If you could sum up Suspended Sentences in three words, what would they be?
Impressionistic. Subtle. Sad.
What did you like best about this story?
You're going to have to really work because nothing's straight forward. This isn't Hemingway or Chekhov. At times, one wonders where the author's going, but you understand what Modiano's saying at the end of each story.
Any additional comments?
The reason I rated the narration 3, is because it's the average of the narrators. Arthur Morey - 5 stars. Sean Runnette - 4 stars. Bronson Pinchot - 1 star. I've heard Pinchot narrate other books and loved those performances, but here, he reads with a French accent! It's annoying! It takes the focus off the book and puts it on the narrator. Bad idea.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
No. A non-stop listing of street names and buildings of long-gone Paris -- don't understand French nor do I know Paris so well that I could identify locations of streets. And not well enough to understand what Modiano was nostalgic about. Insider's view of Paris. Interesting POV though, having to do with shadows and remembrances of people rather than concrete people observed first-hand. People exist second- or third-hand.
Would you ever listen to anything by Patrick Modiano again?
If I could know what the best ones are and if I was sure it wasn't Franco-centric.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
There were three. One had a slight speech impediment and the last had a heavy French accent -- nice for atmosphere but not for listening.
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
Any additional comments?
What's best Modiano book?
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