I have quite enjoyed the Patrick Modiano novels I have read over the last month or so. They have all dealt with memory, remembering, and the fragility, importance, and ephemeral nature of our own past. I think that his works accumulate as they are read, and they come together to create an impressive examination of the futility and necessity of memory.
That said, I did not much like Suspended Sentences. I think this is because his topics are so sensitive and difficult to pin down, that if the conceit upon which he hangs his novels don’t quite work, then the whole thing falls to shambles. Take Afterimage, which I loved – it’s about a photographer and a young man who wants to catalogue and understand the photographs. Simple and evocative, and simultaneously thematically heavy enough to withstand the weight of memory and remembrance.
Suspended Sentences hangs on circus acts, disappeared parents, absent adults. And it doesn’t hang together enough. I could see the cracks and joints of the novel. It was too baldly obvious, too clumsy.
Not for me, then. It was interesting to come to the understanding that Modiano’s novels rely on very sophisticated evocations of memory and loss, and that these works can fall completely flat if the anchor with which they are attached to the world don’t exactly resonate.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.