In this strange, elegant novel, 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 memory.
For 10 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 one-time 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 leads to his former life are few. Could he really be that person in a photograph, a young man remembered by some as a South American attache? 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 a maze of his own repressed experience.
On one level, Missing Person is a detective thriller, a 1950s film noir mix of smoky cafes, 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 spare, hypnotic prose, superbly translated by Daniel Weissbort, draws listeners into the intoxication of a rare literary experience.
©1978 Éditions Gallimard. Translation © 1980 by Jonathan Cape, Ltd. (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I don't think I can judge any better than the Nobel judges. The idea of the book is awesome. It's completely new and fresh, and it was impossible boring for me. I couldn't make it, 45 minutes to the end, I decided to stop trying. Maybe the end is awesome.
I'm not sure.
The idea. The writing. It is undeniable brilliant... and boring. Maybe it's just the reader. It's so flat, languid.
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