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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

"The Black Notebook" by Patrick Modiano

 M Modiano is a Nobel Laureate. This short novel is about a man trying to reconstruct, using his writer's notebook, events that happened twenty years ago, when he became involved with a woman called Dannie and the other people he met at the Unic Hotel in paris: Paul Chastagnier, Duwelc, Gerard Marciano, Aghamouri and Georges. For some reason the police interviewed him at the time. He tries to understand what was going on.

Not a lot, to be honest. The first half of the book is very unstructured, as you might expect from someone trying to remember, and he visits and revisits episodes, such as the occasions that he and Dannie went to an empty old house in the countryside, or when they let themselves into to Dannie's old flat and helped themselves to things. 

Half way through we learn that there was something sinister about the group, and that something terrible happened. 

But even as we learn more about what happened, we never see anything very clearly. And still the narrator wanders around Paris and oscillates between the present and the past, and between reality and his vivid dreams. 

There are some great moments:

  • "Even though most of the buildings were still the same, they made you feel as if you were looking at a taxidermied dog." (p 7)
  • "The present no longer  counted, with its indistinguishable days in their doleful light, which must be the light of old age, when you feel as if you're merely living on." (p 38)
  • "We live at the mercy of certain silences." (p 134)

But in the end I thought it rambled and I was never sufficiently interested in what had happened to care about the main character. He just seemed a little lost and confused. And I couldn't understand why these events that had happened to him long ago should bother him now.

September 2020;157 pages

Books and plays written by Nobel Laureates that I have reviewed in this blog include:


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