Sunday, January 6, 2019

Suspended Sentences: a very short review

Patrick Modiano was the 2014 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, which I think is often given for an entire body of work, not a single piece of work; Suspended Sentences is part of that body of work.

The three novellas in Suspended Sentences are all stories set in France, specifically in Paris, during and shortly after World War II.

Reading the stories, I felt very strongly reminded of the famous 1942 movie, Casablanca; in fact, one of the primary characters in "Flowers of Ruin," the third novella in Suspended Sentences, is a Moroccan man who is (probably) a smuggler:

He invited us to dinner, as was his wont, at the restaurant on Avenue Reille. His friend from Air Maroc was there that evening. And, as usual, he handed out "duty free" cartons of American cigarettes, perfumes, and fountain pens, and little souvenirs he'd brought back from Casablanca.

While the movie Casablanca, with its wide-ranging collection of miscreants, people on the run, and chance encounters, was in the end hopeful, Suspended Sentence is much grittier, much more honest, much more real, and, inevitably, much sadder. Things are lost, and not found. People come, go, and do not come back. Connections are missed; opportunities go wanting.

Still, it is somehow peaceful to follow along with Modiano as he tells the stories of ordinary people doing ordinary things, and what happens as they do so, even if they don't manage to actually save the world.

Life, after all, is not a movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment