Book Review: Patrick Modiano’s Paris Nocturne

Paris NocturneParis Nocturne by Patrick Modiano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read something by Modiano since he won the Nobel prize. I finally decided, as I’ve just arrived back in Paris, to start with Paris Nocturnes. It was a surprise though that after only one session of reading, I noticed I was more than halfway through. So, this short, compact book took me no time at all to read.

Modiano reminded me of many years ago, when I was exploring new writers, and came across Milan Kundera at the same time as Umberto Eco’s ‘If on a Winter’s Night, a Traveller’. Though the voices are not the same, I was reminded by the male protagonists, and the short declarative and philosophical sentences. I mean, you know some North American writers have extremely wordy and descriptive styles.

But the book didn’t feel slight; instead, it was dream-like, filled with repetition and memory and grasping and not quite grasping, uncovering a mystery and doling out, sparingly, details about the narrator’s life and background. It is also, in its precise description of locations in Paris, a literary map: one could construct a day of exploring based on the addresses within.

While I enjoyed the book, I don’t feel I’ve read enough of Modiano yet, or have a strong enough sense of him. Which one should I read next to get that better picture?

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