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  • Paperback
  • 168 pages
  • Rue des boutiues obscures
  • Patrick Modiano
  • English
  • 05 September 2016
  • 9781567922813

10 thoughts on “Rue des boutiues obscures

  1. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    THIS AUTHOR IS THE WINNER OF THE 2014 NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE”I am nothingNothing but a pale shape silhouetted that evening against the cafe terrace waiting for the rain to stop”Guy Roland does not know who he is His past has vanished behind a curtain of amnesia His made up name is not a source of identity but merely a convenience for others to refer to him For ten years he has worked for a private investigator named Hutte When his boss retires and moves to the city of Nice Guy decides that maybe it is time to investigate his own past I’ve known several people who were adopted and most of them have urgently researched their past searching for any clues to the original egg and sperm donor to their existence Even though their parents have provided everything they could ever want in terms of love and care they still feel like something has been lost They feel that those missing pieces once known will finally complete them After experiencing some of the angst of watching my friends search and sometimes find their past I went on this journey with Guy with some trepidation After all amnesia doesn’t just happen lifting the veil than likely is exposing yourself to traumaThe other hazard is that Guy is risking throwing away ten years of a life that could be completely superseded by an old identity The sand holds the traces of our footsteps but a few momentsClues lead him to identities that could be his He tries these lives on like suits left by dead men They might fit in the shoulders but be too constrictive in the chest or need to be longer in the sleeves He has to reluctantly cast them aside one by one and continue to search He finds people he once knew peripheral people who didn’t really know him but moved in the same circle Some of their recollections lead him to other people and sometimes something they say hatches a memory a shadow of a day the will o’ the wisp of a woman These memories though are frustratingly worthless mere teasings etches of greater things ”I was nothing but waves passed through me sometimes faint sometimes stronger and all these scattered echoes afloat in the air crystallized and there I was”MaybeHe follows a trail of broken clues to Rome to Polynesia looking for an elusive friend who could hand him his identity on a silver platter His whole missing life is gift wrapped in the memories of this childhood playmate Who will he be when the key finally fits the lock and his own memory of his past is allowed to soar? Patrick Modiano’s father never registered himself as a Jew with the Nazis in Paris In fact he even went so far as to hang out with the Gestapo and made some money on the blackmarket Modiano’s first book was La Place de l'Étoile which is about a Jewish collaborator This book displeased his father so much that he attempted to buy all the copies in print The theme of Modiano’s work deals with the loss of memory the loss of self and hidden identities One could speculate that all of his work is somewhat of a condemnation or maybe in a milder sense an analysis of his father’s activities during the war It is easy to judge lives that one has not lived Modiano was tutored by the great French writer Raymond ueneau who is one of my favorite European authors I need to read of Modiano’s work to be better able to make connections that might lead back to his mentor This book reminded me of the best of film noir with sparse sentences crackling with static electricity with fog in the streets and with assignations held within the smoky interiors of bars and restaurants ”I often mention bars or restaurants but if it were not for a street or cafe sign from time to time how would I ever find my way?”I kept having visions unfulfilled of the 1987 movie Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke before his face become it’s own horror show I had fears of what Guy had done or what had been done to him Modiano carefully subtly keeps ratcheting up the tension the anticipation He drives the reader further into the plot until your hand is feeling forward into the dark wondering if you will touch flesh or fur or yet another stony dead end If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Rue des boutiues obscures Missing Person Patrick ModianoMissing Person French Rue des Boutiues Obscures is the sixth novel by French writer Patrick Modiano published on 5 September 1978 In the same year it was awarded the Prix Goncourt The English translation by Daniel Weissbort was published in 1980 Rue des Boutiues Obscures literally 'the Street of dark shops' is the name of a street in Rome La Via delle Botteghe Oscure where one of the characters lived and where Modiano himself lived for some time Guy Roland is an amnesiac detective who lost his memory ten years before the beginning of the story which opens in 1965 When his employer Hutte retires and closes the detective agency where he has worked for eight years Roland embarks on a search for his own identity His investigations uncover clues to a life that seems to stop during the Second World War It seems that he is Jimmy Pedro Stern a Greek Jew from Salonica who was living in Paris under an assumed name Pedro McEvoy and working for the legation of the Dominican Republic He and several friends Denise Coudreuse a French model who shares his life; Freddie Howard Luz a British citizen originally from Mauritius; Gay Orlov an American dancer of Russian origin; and André Wildmer an English former jockey all of whom are enemy nationals went to Megève to escape a Paris that had become dangerous for them during the German occupation Denise and Pedro attempted to flee to Switzerland and paid a smuggler who abandoned them in the mountains separating them and leaving them lost in the snow عنوانها خیابان بوتیکهای تاریک؛ خیابان بوتیک های خاموش؛ نویسنده پاتریک مودیانو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش هفتم ماه فوریه سال 2003 میلادیعنوان خیابان بوتیکهای تاریک؛ نویسنده پاتریک مودیانو؛ مترجم فروغ احمدی؛ تهران، ترفند، 1380، در 219 ص، شابک 964926840؛عنوان خیابان بوتیک های خاموش؛ نویسنده پاتریک مودیانو؛ مترجم ساسان تبسمی؛ تهران، افراز، 1388، در 247 ص، شابک 9789642430086؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی سده 20 مخوانشگر از همان صفحه ی نخست، با پرسه زدنهای شخصیت داستان همراه میشود انتظار دارد در پیچ و خم یکی از همان خیابانهایی که راوی بی وقفه از آنها میگذرد، یا توی یکی از کافه ها و رستورانهایی که، او در آنها توقف میکند، رخدادی رخ دهد؛ یا رخدادی از بگذشته بازگو شود؛ اما این انتظار تا صفحه ی پایانی کتاب برآورده نمیشود تمام پرسه زدنهای راوی، همه ی مکانهایی که با جزئیات توصیف میشوند، تنها طعمی از بگذشته را به یاد میآورند، طعمی از گذشته، که به بوهایی از امروز نیز آغشته است در صفحات پایانی رمانهای مودیانو، خواشگر درمییابد که انگار همه حرف و سخن نویسنده همان پرسه زدنها بوده است مهم رفتن بوده، نه رسیدن به چیزی، یا جاییکه باید به آن رسید مودیانو از کم شمار نویسندگان این جهانست که بلد است با داستانهایی از این دست، مخاطب خویش را تا پایان با خود بکشاند، و طعم لذتی را به او بچشاند، که کمتر جایی میتواند، آن را تجربه کند لذت خوانش و خواندن را در این رمان چهل و هفت فصلی، گاه خوانشگر با فصلهایی روبرو میشود، که تنها دربرگیرنده ی یک خط هستند خطی که بازگوکننده ی یک نشانی در پاریس است در طول داستان، مردی که به دنبال هویت فراموش شده ی خود میگردد، با افراد بسیاری دیدار میکند، و با به دست آوردن عکس، نام یک فرد، کتاب به بازیابی هویت خویش میپردازد او به تدریج به نام واقعی خود پی میبرد، و کم کم خاطراتی از بگذشته در ذهنش زنده میشود خاطراتی که خوانشگر مشتاق دانستن اش میشود و در نقطه ی اوج داستان، با تعریف بخشی از خاطرات، خوانشگر را گیج و گنگ، و انگشت به دهان باقی میگذارد ا شربیانی


  3. Cecily Cecily says:

    I had high hopes An author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature and has been recommended by GR friends A book printed on smooth ivory paper enclosed in a silky noir cover An enticing premise reworking clichés finding oneself amnesia a private detective old photos secrets wartime intrigue into something fresh and original It started well I enjoyed the cinematic writingI liked the idea of a private detective investigating himselfThere was intrigue and atmosphere aplenty But found the story increasingly repetitive and dullUltimately it left me coldI think unusually I’d have enjoyed it as a film Picture this“ The station suare was deserted except for a child roller skating under the trees on the raised strip” Image Patrick Modiano in Paris in 1969 SourceWho am I?The most fundamental uestion of all?Immediately before this I read Wyndham’s Consider Her Ways and others see my review HERE a collection of stories where people find themselves in the wrong timetimelines and literally ask who where or when they are and how“ I am nothing” the opening words of this Guy lost his memory and for eight years has been working for the private detective who created an identity for him and told him not to look back When the boss retires Guy turns his skills and the office directories to investigating himself Like some of Wyndham’s characters he doesn’t know fundamental facts about himself and hopes to find people who might recognise him It’s set in Paris some time after 1965 there’s a letter from then on file but the trail goes back to WW2 There are stake outs taxi chases and a daisy chain of people notes and photos in smokey cafés seedy bars and swanky restaurants It acknowledges the clichés“ It seemed everything ended with old chocolate or biscuit or cigar boxes”Image Still from “Rafles sur la ville” not particularly related plot wise SourceThe mutability of memoryHardball detective scenes are juxtaposed with something ethereal as memories and imaginings blur“ A mental picture flashed before me like those fragments of some fleeting dream which one tries to hold on to in waking”Guy is unclear what is a memory and what he’s dreamed or imagined; the reader is even less sure The desire to believe compounded by the power of images is a powerful combination For example it’s surprisingly easy to persuade someone they went in a hot air balloon aged 7 when they’ve never been in one at all see CogBlog article Making a mark“ Do not our lives dissolve into the evening as uickly as this grief of childhood?”and“ The sand keeps the traces of our footsteps only a few moments”Image Footprints along a sandy beach SourceI wonder what marks have I made on the world? I’ve jointly created and raised a human who I think is a gentle force for good but that’s hardly unusual I talked one person away from a suicidal crisis towards help but never that realised another had been contemplating it until they succeeded I don’t do much harm but maybe not much good either Then I thought about which of my contemporaries from school and university are notable in some way the ones who sprang first to mind were for sad or bad reasons I assumed that was a tragic reflection of societal attitudes to success and celebrity Then I asked a group of 20 friends from adulthood they rattled off classmates who've done impressive things and almost nothing negative I guess that means my thought seuence reflects my mindset not a wider societal malaise I’m unsure whether to be worried or relieved“ I am nothing” don't be swayed by my opinion Read the many erudite reviews on GR that laud this book uotes• “An old man so white haired so fragile he seemed to be made of dried plaster”• The dream like feeling Cars flowed along in a muffled fluid world as though skimming over water• I was sure he was thinking about nothing He was enveloped in a fog of indifference that grew thicker and thicker• “I had the unpleasant sensation I was dreaming I had already lived my life and was just a ghost hovering in the tepid air”• “Strange people The kind that leave the merest blur behind them soon vanished Beauty ueens Gigolos Butterflies”• “Always have several passports as a precaution”• “I believe that the entrance halls of buildings still retain the echo of footsteps of those who used to cross them All these scattered echoes afloat in the air crystallized and there I was”


  4. Kalliope Kalliope says:

    Here I am writing from behind my proxy protecting my identityBut who knows whether I do have one? What if I were a multitude or a composite of anonymous voices? Or what if my self was nothing but an entanglement of separate lifelines? Could my identity be a broken prism of distorting mirrors?Engrossed in this magnificent novel I certainly would forget myselfUnder the guise of a detective story with a ‘noir’ tint Modiano has span an investigation into the nature of identity that is as beguiling as a lyrical song Seemingly residing in a name a nationality a year of birth a telephone number in facts that can be established in an identity card we soon surmise however that identity is elusive May be as fleeting as the scent of a perfume sporadic snowflakes of the tears of a child The search takes us through a maze of disappearing footprints that only leave behind a long list of street names mostly Parisian streets It is as if the addresses had kept the singularities of the numerous personalities who have resided there and those streets and numbers become the personsSimilarly with photographs Are we they? To what extent these silver printed images constitute our selves? Have they appropriated our being?The succession of incongruous personalities the unpredictable dialogues the unlikely but treasured cues confer to this novel a flavor of the absurd that kept me fascinated Indeed a point came when it seemed that congruity would violate the uncanny nature of the story and I felt dismay But no the baffling evocation continuedModiano’s investigation of the nature of the self is perplexing and entails a deeper suspense than a common thriller The reflection on how we construe ourselves whether out of our recorded memories or through our imagination or from the echoes we perceive from the way others see us is admirably expanded in this beautiful novel Even if we close the book realizing that ultimately one is alone in this uest and that there may no end to itThe riddle is partly and wrongly given away in the title of the English translation I find Missing Person it too discernible and unsuitable to Modiano’s ingenious writing and thinking The original title is the French translation of the street in Rome where Mondiano used to live Via delle botteghe oscure He must have felt that he had left part of his identity there


  5. Vit Babenco Vit Babenco says:

    Amnesia is a favourite mental disorder for those who exploit detective plots – it at once provides a mystery and unlocks the wide open space for any manoeuvresI am nothing Nothing but a pale shape silhouetted that evening against the café terrace waiting for the rain to stopAnd the main hero embarks on a uest in search of his true identity and his own pastAnd in this labyrinthine maze of buildings staircases and elevators among these hundreds of cubbyholes I had found a man who perhapsI had pressed my brow against the window Below each building entrance was lit by a yellow light which would burn all nightAnd he always comes to a possibility and never to an assurance that that was his real pastSome lives are just fiction


  6. Steven Godin Steven Godin says:

    I am nothingFinding a missing person is a challenge enough but what if you the person searching happens to be looking for yourself? Where the hell do you even begin in searching for the clues with no memories of the years gone by? Delving into the past is obviously a good place to start with a little help of course slowly picking up pieces of information here and there that begins to bring back small moments and details that unravel a life forgotten Winner of the Prix Goncourt in 1978 this short novel pays homage to Paris and nostalgia Modiano's protagonist and part narrator Guy Roland a name given to him by his detective agency boss suffers from almost total amnesia and has been working as a private snoop solving other people’s mysteries that is until his boss Hutte decides he has had enough and moves to Nice He goes on a journey to rediscover himself again From nothing to part something to someone Modiano uses the irony of the detective searching for his old life and I have to say I was completely enthralled the whole way through only to be slightly hampered by the abrupt open ended last chapter All those he meets along the way either know him or vaguely know of him but he knows none of them Sometimes playing along that he does in the hope of gaining background knowledge His fragmented mind is like an egg timer slowly the grains of memory start to fill up the open space Most of the period in uestion was the German occupation of Paris before and during World War two He would learn of a past riddled with intrigue with those he loved those he befriended and those who had suspicious motivesOnce again like with a previously read Modiano the prose used while exploring the theme of identity showcases his beautifully deft style with a haunting and melancholy tone It's like looking at an old family photo whom some of those have now departed He utilizes Paris perfectly creating scene after scene where one can almost smell the aromas of good coffee and the after taste of cigarette smoke from the Cafés and restaurants as he weaves his way around the streets of the city Just be clear to anyone thinking this may be a Jason Bourne style thriller it absolutely isn't Modiano has no interest in exciting set pieces guns or violence The pacing is slow for a reason and works perfectly in tandem with Guy's task of trying to bring his true self back to life All the characters he acuaints with come across as very tactile easy to talk to and are in some cases sad and lonely It is a book built on triggered inner feelings and rekindling emotions from a bygone era There are so many beautiful images that Modiano paints throughout the book his canvas is one of light and dreamy pastels rather than deep dark colouringTo some this could be seen as nothing than a mystery story with unanswered uestions Anyone that has a heart will see that there is to it than that A sublime and poignant piece of storytelling I am staggered that most of Modiano's work on GR comes in with such low average ratings Maybe it just takes a certain kind of reader to appreciate him fully I am one of themA memorable 45


  7. s.penkevich s.penkevich says:

    ‘ Scraps shreds have come to light as a result of my searchesBut then that is perhaps what a life amounts to’It seems fitting that a fog has just rolled in as I began writing here Fog an essential element to the atmosphere of noir and the essence of Missing Person by 2014’s Nobel Prize of Literature recipient Patrick Modiano Here is a mystery where everything is shrouded in fog from the evening Paris streets to the narrator’s own memory; Modiano has created a mystery where the detective is the subject of his own case as he tracks down his past lost in a haze of amnesia Through his purely elegant lyrical prose Paris comes alive in a maze of ever changing streets and people who watch the Paris of their pasts the restaurants and hotels that form the settings of their identity drift into unreachable oblivion Through a sleek noir dredging up the shadowy streets of Nazi occupied France Modiano muses on identity in a world that continuously mutates into the future and finds our only evidence of existence diminishing with the deaths of those who once knew us as another generation passes into silence‘ Is it really my life I’m tracking down? Or someone else’s into which I have somehow infiltrated myself?’Guy Roland or so his false papers claim him to be seeks out his own identity in a maze of leads that illuminate the tragic tales of others and sends him further seeking traces of his own ghost I had the unpleasant sensation that I was dreaming I had already lived my life and was just a ghost hovering in the tepid air of a Saturday eveningWhy try to renew which had been broken and look for paths that have been blocked off long ago? Attempts at finding someone who may recognize him or know him spurred on by the hopes that it is in fact himself in an old photograph given to himself by his first lead seem thwarted as the old generation is dying off But with each story he hears he finds a glimmer of hope in a small thread that continues his search and with each new lead comes another story that paints a portrait of 1940’s France in mosaic form These are identities tossed on the waves of history ‘ The sand holds the traces of our footsteps but a few moments’ Guy’s former employer tells him and Guy finds himself like just another ghost another washed out footstep remembering a time now gone where even the restaurants have changed names and the past fades and yellows like an old photograph There is always some thread to the past to be found if one looks hard enough ‘ Something continues to vibrate after they have gone fading waves but which can still be picked up if one listens carefully’ These echos of the past are the only thing to seek refuge and understanding it And nothing echoes loudly than the boom of war the fear and fearsomeness of identity checkpoints under occupation In all his searching it is to this sad period of history that all his leads point the big bang of impetus sending all his contacts scattering across the globe and in this aspect of identity being masked or misconstrued in order to survive is where Modiano’s musings are most poignant While the longings for the Paris of one’s past are examined in much depths and heart in Modiano’s Suspended Sentences Three Novellas the subtleties and elegance found here is exuisite Missing Person is a rather straightforward novel driven mostly by plot and dialogue that embody the spirit of film noir at its finest Modiano does well by having each lead seem of a disappointment and distraction while giving subtle hints where to look next however many of the connections seem a bit contrived in hindsight and the reader must have the good faith to suspend some disbelief in order to navigate the maze of mystery It is when Modiano pulls back from the plot and digresses into philosophical issues or poetic impressions of his Paris wanderings that Missing Person truly shines Though the plot driven narrative is exciting and engaging—particularly the twist on the detective story found here—one can only wish the digressions and flourishes of prose that slow things down and allow the reader to really glimpse the heart of Paris and humanity were freuent' Do not our lives dissolve into the evening'Modiano has recently been dubbed as a ‘modern Proust’ While evidence towards such a lofty claim is glimpsed in small doses here Missing Person seems too plot driven and contrived to really suite such a claim Suspended Sentences does better and seems a better portrayal of the key elements that earned him the Nobel Award Modiano does excel at noir and Missing Person breathes a wonderfully cold and weightless atmosphere of shadowy figures appearing and disappearing in both a literal mist and one of memory Full of mystery suspense and historical importance Missing Person is a fun noir adventure but leaves the reader wishing the plot were often pushed aside to let Modiano’s brilliant digressions grow wild355‘ I am nothing Nothing but a pale shape silhouetted that evening against the cafe terrace waiting for the rain to stop’


  8. Agnieszka Agnieszka says:

    I am nothing Nothing but a pale silhouette that evening on the terrace of a café The main protagonist of Rue des Boutiues obscures we could as well call him Guy suffers from amnesia He works at detective agency and after his boss retirement decides to learn the truth about himself With this end in view meets many people freuently emigrants and stateless persons and gathering vague hints following blurred instructions tries to solve the riddle of own past From shards and snatches elusive memoirs old photos addresses and phone numbers attempts to build himself anew and reclaim lost identity One track leads him to another; sometimes Guy comes close the truth another time track appears to be dead end All the charm of that novel resides in its atmosphere In foggy weather mirroring Guy’s state of mind in the maze of dark alleys which he traverses looking for own footprints in strange apartments in dangerously looking staircases in carefully locked doors in boxes with jetsam old photographs and letters In ambience of melancholy and mystery enhanced by alienation and feeling of constant menace In generally speaking poetics of dream in which it is written355


  9. David Schaafsma David Schaafsma says:

    Workin' on mysteries without any clues—Bob SegerJe ne suis rien I am nothingI am nothing Nothing but a pale shape silhouetted that evening against the cafe terrace waiting for the rain to stopPatrick Modiano was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014 I had never heard of him before that Most of his novels then had not been translated into English I ignored him until this week having read Ilse’s review of another Modiano book having some driving time to do I listened to this book his sixth with the original and appropriately poetic title Rue des Boutiues Obscures published in English prosaically as Missing PersonIn Missing Person we have a novel about memory about reconstructing the past even as it fades away The sand holds the traces of our footsteps but a few moments Guy Roland is a detective with improbably amnesia working on cracking the most important case of his life Who am I? Apparently he was Jimmy Pedro Stern a Greek Jew from Salonica who was living in Paris under an assumed name Pedro McEvoy and maybe working for the Dominican Republic Maybe Roland was a name given to him by his former boss Hutte who rescued him gave him a job the last assignment of which was to find Roland’s own true identity The novel is primarily about Roland’s meeting people to ask them uestions as a detective would do to find a scrap here a scrap there of his past Is this tidbit of information a blind alley a false lead? Is the thing that it makes me recall important to the puzzle or not?Scraps shreds have come to light as a result of my searches But then that is perhaps what a life amounts toMissing Person is a seventies existential mystery about the search for identity which is always reconstructive flawed partial in part a fiction Roland and Modiano are engaged in a process of unlocking the past especially thirties and forties Paris as it relates to the Occupation when Modiano's father a Jew and a petty criminal was believed to have worked for a time as a Gestapo collaborator So as with any mystery it's about unearthing barely discernible “shady dealings” with various Russian expatriates and others of mixed or uncertain nationalities with whom Roland and possibly Modiano’s father seems to have been involved Denise a model; Gay Orlov an American dancer of Russian origins a swirl of people Roland lost his memory from some injury in the war; was he or was it Modiano’s father? involved in the Communist party? The effect is a noir story that doesn’t turn thriller but is instead a dark exploration of the pastI first went to Paris in 1976 with someone I loved and no longer know Life was alive for us new exciting What do I recall of that first trip? Scraps of a Paris partly invented through French film through Truffaut through ex pat American novels a Paris of romantic invention Strolling through The Jeu De Paume the Louvre sipping cafe au lait in cafes near Notre Dame waking to buy wine and fresh bread and cheese to idly lounge on the banks of the Seine the Artist’s uarter all that tourist jazz What is real and invented about that time that relationship? Why do I have so many regrets after so many years gone by? As I read this book I recall Ilse’s review on her evocation of Paris I recall my own visits to Paris of people I met there my own scraps of the past I’m Dorothy falling to Oz glimpsing images of the past slowly passing by Oh there’s Anne my high school friend on the Avenue des Champs Élysées wow hi Anne I did see her there Wearing backpacks we are not allowed by the concierge to enter this bar where Hemingway once lounged Is it really my life I’m tracking down? Or someone else’s into which I have somehow infiltrated myself? “The letters dance before my eyes Who am I?”A low overall Goodreads rating maybe points to the fact that nothing much happens in this short book except a man searching for clues with the mystery never ultimately solved A slow moving brooding atmospheric story told in foggy weather in a maze of apartment building corridors and cafes and dark alleyways sifting through boxes of old photographs and letters The effect is poetry and dream than novel but in a way it may be truer to life than any neatly shaped fiction of the past most novels constructWhen it comes down to it it may be that I never was this Pedro McEvoy I never was anything; but the waves that passed by me sometimes distant and sometimes closer and all those echoes that hung in the air crystallized and that was me”Modiano’s style reminds me of Simenon Coetzee Hemingway Proust the literary Everest of memory Lydia Davis The audiobook is narrated by Bronson Pinchot; the translation by Daniel Weissbort who I have to credit with at least some of the lyricism I much liked I’ll now go on to read Modiano as I search for my own past as I read 45 though I just may rate it higher as I read of his books


  10. Jr Bacdayan Jr Bacdayan says:

    Patrick Modiano recent awardee of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 deserves his place among the greats After one novel I’m captivated What I love about him is his writing style It is uite similar to that of fellow Nobel laureates JM Coetzee and Ernest Hemingway Modiano writes in a compact reserved voice His style does not bombard you with loads of compound sentences nor drops on you a barrel full of adjectives unlike most accomplished writers of this generation In fact it might be described as simple However there’s a lingering presence of something I can only call ‘grace’ that envelops his writing It is a scent that I have always known to come from delicious writing His sparse and direct prose coupled with his penchant for descripting places translate into something classic and captivating If Hemingway had a penchant for drink and food Modiano is infatuated with places streets hotels restaurants roads bridges buildings he creates descriptions that give one a mental map of some sort tracing the paths of his characters and introducing new places at every turn Also injected into his writing is this feeling of weightlessness as if one had the ability to disintegrate like some creature made of air You are engulfed in your reading experience; you never realize how much time you have spent until you actually look at a clock I loved it “There under the embankment trees I had the unpleasant sensation that I was dreaming I had already lived my life and was just a ghost hovering in the tepid air of a Saturday evening Why try to renew ties which had been broken and look for paths that had been blocked off long ago?” This novella called ‘Missing Person’ is about an amnesiac searching for his identity This empty man named Guy Roland who had been living in the shadows as a private detective for eight years decided that he finally had it in him to search for his forgotten past Along the way he rediscovers old places meets old acuaintances and regains pieces of his broken memory“Hutte for instance used to uote the case of a fellow he called ‘the beach man’ This man had spent forty years of his life on beaches or by the sides of swimming pools chatting pleasantly with summer visitors and rich idlers He is to be seen in his bathing costume in the corners and backgrounds of thousands of holiday snaps among groups of happy people but no one knew his name or why he was there And no one noticed when one day he vanished from the photographs I did not dare tell Hutte but I felt that ‘the beach man’ was myself”We all ask ourselves ‘what is the purpose of my life?’ ‘why am I here?’ We ask these uestions to bring some sense of order in this business of living We are looking for direction a future We are looking for a map to tell us which road to travel on which path to take Not a bad plan for life But in order to be able to know what one is to do don’t you think that one needs to know oneself? How is a traveler supposed to travel if he does not even know that he is a traveler in the first place? “You were right to tell me that in life it is not the future which counts but the past”Identity is built upon one thing the past We become who we are through the accumulation of memories and experiences The only thing we really build in life is our identity Yes the future gives us some sense of trajectory of purpose but then it is the past that controls the future You were therefore you are “A little girl is returning from the beach at dusk with her mother She is crying for no reason at all because she would have liked to continue playing She moves off into the distance She has already turned the corner of the street and do not our lives dissolve into the evening as uickly as this grief of childhood?” At once a mystery but then also a journey into memory and time ‘Missing Person’ will leave you breathless This novel about the self tells us that oftentimes we are too busy looking for our identity in the past asking too many uestions about our purpose in the future that the result is a life of asking and searching instead of one of living Life need not be so complicated Looking forward and backward is inevitable you cannot stop doing that but never ever fail to focus on the now “Until now everything has seemed so chaotic so fragmented scraps shreds have come to light as a result of my searches but then that is perhaps what a life amounts to” Hutte was always saying that in the end we are all ‘beach men’ and that ‘the sand’ – I am uoting his own words – ‘keeps the traces of our footsteps only a few moments'Whether you look at the past the present the future only one thing is certain life is ephemeral Make it count


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Rue des boutiues obscures WINNER OF THE 2014 NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATUREWinner of the Prix GoncourtIn this strange elegant novel winner of France's premier literary prize Patrick Modiano portrays a man in pursuit of the identity he lost in the murky days of the Paris Occupation the black hole of French memoryFor ten years Guy Roland has lived without a past His current life and name were given to him by his recently retired boss Hutte who welcomed him a onetime client into his detective agency Guy makes full use of Hutte's files – directories yearbooks and papers of all kinds going back half a century – but his leads are few Could he really be the person in that photograph a young man remembered by some as a South American attaché Or was he someone else perhaps the disappeared scion of a prominent local family He interviews strangers and is tantalized by half clues until at last he grasps a thread that leads him through the maze of his own repressed experienceOn one level Missing Person is a detective thriller a 1950s film noir mix of smoky cafés illegal passports and insubstantial figures crossing bridges in the fog On another level it is also a haunting meditation on the nature of the self Modiano's sparce hypnotic prose superbly translated by Daniel Weissbort draws his readers into the intoxication of a rare literary experience Librarian's note See an alternate cover edition for this ISBN here