Thursday, January 15, 2015

Suspended Sentences (Modiano)

Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas
by Patrick Modiano, Mark Polizzotti (Translation)
Yale University Press, 2014
Paperback, 232 pages
Originally published in French as: Chien de printemps, (1993); Remise de peine, (1988); and, Fleurs de ruine, (1991).
This cover captures it perfectly

Recently I’ve been wondering if I haven't read enough of these "novels" that seem more memoir than fiction. The first person narrative where the narrator just happens to have the same first name as the author; the narrator's brother with the same name as the author's brother; the author and narrator are the same age (maybe even went to the same schools, churches, vacation spots, etc.); all very autobiographical and all--like much of our memory--fictionalized.

Then I come across another gem and none of those things matter at all. Suspended Sentences is one of these gems. The stories are good, the writing is sublime, and the place is Paris. The three novellas are somewhat connected:  the setting is post World II Paris, some of the characters appear in more than one of the stories, and they are all the memories of a man trying to piece together mysterious things that happened in his childhood and youth. 

The characters are fascinating, the stories are intriguing, and I was overwhelmed with the detailed descriptions of Parisian neighborhoods. This is one of those books that had me keeping a Google Map open on my laptop while I read, following the story through the streets. These stories could only have happened in Paris.

For French Bingo: D4


  1. Hello, I'm visiting from French Bingo. This does sound good. Perfect for me really. I'm keen to read some Modiano this year. I've only read one so far. I'm might try and get this one.... Oops, done, just ordered it online- it will be mine in a few short weeks.