Suspended Sentences: The Fog of Bad Realism

Book Guy Reviews

Nobel Prize Winner Patrick Modiano’s trio of novellas is simultaneously one of the most beautiful things I’ve read, and regrettably, one of the most boring.

Typically, I love Nobel prize winning work, and I always try to remind myself that if it’s received the highest literary award possible, it’s got merits. It has to, right?

Modiano’s work is blurred in fog. As though there’s some sort of transluscent gauze or wrap spread over every surface. Rooms are filled with cigarette smoke. The cobblestoned streets of post-occupation Paris are shrouded in cloud. Characters that seem familiar from a distance fade into unfamiliarity as they approach. At the very heart of Modiano’s work is shadow, which makes for an interestingly philosophical milieu or atmosphere.

Throughout Suspended Sentences Modiano reminds us that shadow and distance are as pervasive as light and familiarity–sometimes more so. That that which we perceive to be hard fact, tangibility and permanence is…

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