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Thread: Patrick Modiano

  1. #1
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    France Patrick Modiano

    Patrick Modiano has been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the art of memory which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation."

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Here's a review I wrote a couple of years ago on the only novel of his I've read, Un Pedigree:

    It's not very common for a reader to start reading a fiction author by a memoir. Usually you start digging on biographical writings of a writer once you're familiar with his works and you want to grab more elements to interpret and understand better what the author has to say and how it links with his own life. This time, I came with this book as a first approach to Modiano, an author whose fiction is still unknown to me.
    First of all, this book was cataloged as a novel, but the writings are in first person and it's basically Modiano telling his life, going from his childhood and finalizing when his first novel was published. In a very short book (126pp in my edition) the author creates an atmosphere I had never read in an ouvre of this category. It's the story full of dispossession, a deep loneliness even though he is among many people. A vague story of his parents comes as a prologue to his existence, and then it comes a lot of names cascading through all the book, complete names that keep on repeating but they don't really mean anything to the young Patrick. Little by little those characters become mere shadows, ghosts that populates the surroundings of Modiano's early years but that don't have a real interaction or influence in his life. The figures of his parents are really problematic: They're never described as a common couple but as two individuals that by some accident (even though they were married and lived together for a while) had a child and had to deal with that in a merely incidental manner. His mother, an actress who was always travelling through Europe acting in very small theater productions and whose main goal in life was acting. His father, a very obscure man who was always dealing with almost outside-the-law jobs and who introduces many of his colleagues to the life of Patrick while they were living together in Paris. On contrary to many memoirs where the author tries to elevate himself highlighting all the achievements of his life, Modiano's book has to be one of the more melancholic memoirs I've read. It could be compared with Coetzee's Boyhood, but there's a huge difference, Coetzee analyses everything in a very deep and rational way, moving away from his memories by narrating in third person and taking a side on it as the world known writer and brilliant mind he is now. Modiano just tells the story and intertwines some commentaries from his own, but just expressing his feelings in a more emotional tone, without deep thoughts, just remembering and yearning. I thought it was a very honest exercise, a painful journey throughout all these years, that for some reasons starts changing at the moment he publishes his first book (that is why the book ends here) but that for obvious reasons will always be present in his subsequent works. It would be very interesting to see if he writes a continuation, something I really doubt, because the second part would be more telling the autobiography of a successful writer and not the life of an anonymous child who couldn't find a place in the world between all of those ghosts and shadows that exists in everybody's life, being a writer or not.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Just like Alice Munro's short stories packed entire novels in a compressed fashion, a novel like Modiano's Accident nocturne is written as carefully as a short story and requires as much of a close reading and concentrated attention to be unpacked as the best of short stories, say Borges' The Aleph (which it resembles more than a little at some points).
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Never heard of him, (standard response, LOL).

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    I've read four or five short novels of his. Eh, they go down easy but aren't really anything special. It seems to me that the best thing about them is their atmosphere.

    Modiano is clearly a choice only a committee could make, but I will say that, disappointing as the choice might otherwise be, the howls of protest from the champions of P. Roth and other such Americans bores will be, as they say, music to my ears.

    One interesting thing about Modiano is that he is, if I recall correctly, one of quite a few prominent European writers who never went to or never finished university. Contrast to the situation in the U.S., where everyone and his fucking grandmother has a fucking MFA in creative writing. To no purpose, too, as far as I can tell.
    Last edited by Bubba; 09-Oct-2014 at 20:55. Reason: Added univ. bit

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano


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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    the howls of protest from the... American bores
    Bubba, are you always this cranky or only on those days that end in "y"?

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    What a wonderful bookshelf. I admit I'm of the opposite tendency, everything neatly alphabetised and sorted by publication language

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by nagisa View Post
    What a wonderful bookshelf. I admit I'm of the opposite tendency, everything neatly alphabetised and sorted by publication language
    I take it even one step further, Nagisa, and devote some shelves for taller books and some for shorter books. I'm not sure if that represents a feng-shui-like need for balance or if it's more indicative of extreme anal retentive tendencies.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    When the award was first announced, I checked Amazon to see how many copies of the first edition of Modiano's Night Rounds were up for sale. Initially, there were eight starting out at $50. Now there are only two and the minimum price is $2400. My colleagues at work think I'm absolutely crazy for not immediately listing my copy. They say if I don't sell now (because the price will invariably drop after the initial fervor) that it's tantamount to spending $2000 to keep it. I prefer to look at it as I got a great $5 deal when I bought the book a few years ago. Who's right?
    Last edited by Stevie B; 11-Oct-2014 at 13:03.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    I would have ordered Missing Person as an ebook on the day of the Nobel announcement - if I could have. I hope that Modiano's American publisher David R. Godine fixes that situation soon.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Today I visited a few bookstores in Buenos Aires, where I live, and I couldn't find a single Modiano even though most of his books have been published in Spanish by Anagrama. I guess they are all out of print and probably the publishing house was caught empty handed by surprise. New editions need to be printed soon.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    When the award was first announced, I checked Amazon to see how many copies of the first edition of Modiano's Night Rounds were up for sale. Initially, there were eight starting out at $50. Now there are only two and the minimum price is $2400. My colleagues at work think I'm absolutely crazy for not immediately listing my copy. They say if I don't sell now (because the price will invariably drop after the initial fervor) that it's tantamount to spending $2000 to keep it. I prefer to look at it as I got a great $5 deal when I bought the book a few years ago. Who's right?
    I know I'd sell my copy. Eventually new editions will be published, the price will drop and it's not like it's a print from the 18th century. It is interesting to see that someone wants to read a Nobel laureate that badly and pays so much for it!

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Murtha View Post
    I would have ordered Missing Person as an ebook on the day of the Nobel announcement - if I could have. I hope that Modiano's American publisher David R. Godine fixes that situation soon.
    Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas is set to come out on the kindle in about a month. I wish they'd hurry up with Missing Person, it's the one of his I want to read the most. So far though it seems like none of his books are available online through legal means (nor, ummm, through the other way).
    Last edited by redheadshadz; 12-Oct-2014 at 07:15.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by Stiffelio View Post
    Today I visited a few bookstores in Buenos Aires, where I live, and I couldn't find a single Modiano even though most of his books have been published in Spanish by Anagrama. I guess they are all out of print and probably the publishing house was caught empty handed by surprise. New editions need to be printed soon.
    I didn't check in Guadalajara, but I just came back from Mexico City and I found 3 or 4 titles available in most of the bookstores I checked. The best thing is I didn't have to buy any of these expensive Anagrama right now because I found two old editions when he still was published in Alfaguara, in an used books shop, and got'em very cheap

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Two days before Modiano got the Nobel, Eric Chevillard posted this on his blog, L'autofictif:
    There's too much sunlight on Le Clezio's novels, this is bad for the eyes and dazzling. I recommend reading them through a Modiano novel.
    Trop de soleil dans les romans de Le Clézio, c’est éblouissant, dangereux pour l’œil. Je recommande de les lire à travers un Modiano.
    And Claro on his own blog was, as usual, deliciously ironic. Reading the Wall Street Journal the day after Modiano's Nobel, Claro found that:
    [there] a delightful surprise was waiting for me: an article on Modiano, who apparently had just received some prestigious award. Obviously, the journalist responsible for the article had assumed that the Wall Street Journal readers may not necessarily know who this Modiano dude was, which may well be the case… [The challenge facing the article writer was], in short, how to define this French writer of ours? In fact, it was not such a complicated task, and the author of the article managed to do it pretty well, in my opinion. Finally someone who does not steal from Wikipedia ... or something; it ended up looking like this:
    "The 18 members of the Swedish Academy have chosen a particularly accessible writer who writes detective mysteries, children's books and short novels under a hundred pages long."
    That's it. Now you know what glory tastes like.
    Last edited by Cleanthess; 15-Oct-2014 at 06:23.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    I didn't check in Guadalajara, but I just came back from Mexico City and I found 3 or 4 titles available in most of the bookstores I checked. The best thing is I didn't have to buy any of these expensive Anagrama right now because I found two old editions when he still was published in Alfaguara, in an used books shop, and got'em very cheap
    After a bit more research I learned that, due to Herralde's agreement to sell Anagrama to Feltrinelli in 2015, most of the distribution agreements are also being renegotiated. Therefore there's likely to be a delay in the distribution/imports of new editions of Anagrama titles. A knowledgeable bookstore owner told me today that we shall have to wait at least a month if not more to receive new Anagrama titles, and that of course includes Modiano's books.

    I did nevertheless manage to find a book containing two brief nouvelles: Chien de printemps and Fleurs de ruine. They are published by the independent imprint Cuenco de Plata

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Quote Originally Posted by Stiffelio View Post
    After a bit more research I learned that, due to Herralde's agreement to sell Anagrama to Feltrinelli in 2015, most of the distribution agreements are also being renegotiated. Therefore there's likely to be a delay in the distribution/imports of new editions of Anagrama titles. A knowledgeable bookstore owner told me today that we shall have to wait at least a month if not more to receive new Anagrama titles, and that of course includes Modiano's books.

    I did nevertheless manage to find a book containing two brief nouvelles: Chien de printemps and Fleurs de ruine. They are published by the independent imprint Cuenco de Plata
    I knew that Herralde had an agreement to sell Anagrama, but had no idea when this was going to happen. Although comprehensible it still sad that Herralde won't be anymore behind that great publishing group he created. I've heard good things about Feltrinelli but I'm not sure if it's going to be the same.

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Via Bertigo (click on the link for the lyrics), Patrick Modiano's most famous song, Surprise Me, as sung by Francoise Hardy. I must admit that it has a certain Dylan circa Rainy Day Women feeling.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

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    Default Re: Patrick Modiano

    Antonio Muñoz Molina talking about Modiano's novels:

    http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/20...35_860513.html

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