Pedigree by Patrick Modiano


Pedigree by Patrick Modiano

French autobiography

Original title – Un pedigree

Translator – Mark Polizzotti

Source – review copy

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
And the dead lay in pools of maroon below

Daddy didn’t give attention
Oh, to the fact that mommy didn’t care
King Jeremy The Wicked
Ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Clearly I remember
Pickin’ on the boy
Seemed a harmless little fuck
But we unleashed a lion
Jeremy by Pearl Jam is another man dealing with the let down of who his parents were .

As we move near this year Nobel we are seeing the first new books in English from last years winner Patrick Modiano , this is one of two books from Maclehose press his two most recent books .There is also a trilogy out from Bloomsbury and the trilogy that was already in the pipeline from Yale press that have all appeared since he won the nobel last year .I’m so pleased I have a number of more books to read by him for when last year , when I read search warrant and published my review just a few days before he won the nobel there wasn’t many books available to be read by him .

On 2 august , 1945 , my father went by bike to register my birth at the town hall of Boulogne-Bilancourt .I imagine returning through the deserted streets or Auteuil and alongside the silent quays of that summer .

Then he decided we would live in Mexico .The passports were ready .At the last minute , he changed his mind . He came so close to leaving Europe after the war .Thirty years later , he went to die in Switzerland , a neutral country .In the meantime , he moved around a lot : Canada , Guyana , Equatorial Africa , Colombia .. He went searching for El Dorado , in Vain

To me this capture his father a flighty man who want the quick buck all the time , how does it go this time next year we will be …

For me this is an interesting choice it is a short book , writers autobiographies tend to be strange books I find .But this is quite straightforward and maybe for someone who is called the Proust of his times , his own life as biography is rather eye-opening and maybe explains his fiction .What we see is the young Patrick that is shipped off after his parents an actress mother and his father a shady character that is also a womaniser .What happens is a young boy sent to schools with a heartless mother that doesn’t want the boy and a father who sets the police on him when he needs money .Add to that a brother that dies and his jewish father trying to get by through the war .We see his early years through to his young adulthood and his first rungs on the ladder of being a writer , as he talks about the writers he knows and the books he likes at the time .This include a book by a French writer called Monherlant which I recently found and got myself to read at a later date .

Raymond Queneau was kind enough to receive me on saturdays .Often , at the beginning of the afternoon .We’d return from Neuilly along the Left Bamk .He told me of a walk he had taken with Boris Vian to a dead-end street that almost no-one knew , at the far end of the 13th Arrondissment .

His early writer years he meet the great oulipo writer Raymond Queneau .

What this is a small piece of the greater puzzle that is the fiction of Patrick Modiano , I have read the search warrant, so you don’t get lost in the neighbour hood (review to follow soon also from Maclehose press ) and suspended sentences from Yale that I read but didn’t get to review before it was due back to the library . I enjoyed the later part of the book where he is just starting his journey as a writer and we see him visiting the leading lights of french literature at the time .I said at the time I thought Patrick was a writer that Christopher Maclehose liked and so pleased to be proven right as they publish two new books by him to the earlier books that he would worked on at Harvil years ago .

Have you read Patrick Modiano ?


The enigma of Modiano ?


Well Monday see’s the first post nobel book by Patrick Modiano come out its only on kindle for now by Yale press world republic of letters imprints are bringing out Suspended sentences a collection of three novellas by him , they are described as an ode to a bygone Paris and the dark days of Nazi rules and the writers own experience  , this sounds rather like the search warrant , which those of you that read my review know I instantly fell in love with .So we now need to know how this writer hasn’t ever really taken of in the English speaking world ? So why has this not happened , well has he not won a big prize ? no he won the Prix Goncourt ok a long time ago but it is the biggest prize in French literature , he has also won a number of big european prizes before the Nobel win so no that isn’t a reason .Not enough books ? no he has written 26 novels so there is a body of work by him .His books are they  too long ? no they tend to be below 200 pages which means they are actually cheap to translate .The style of the books tend to be Literary detective book missed with memories a sort of Sebald Eco mix so that isn’t really a reason for people not to buy them as both those writers are among the most popular selling writers in translation .Setting now this is maybe a problem a lot of his books look at the French war years , now I think in the 21st century maybe we are ready to rewrite the view of this period , yes it was bad , but people still had to live and this is at heart what a lot of his books seem to be about the everyday going ons of wartime France .He is called the New Proust I have seen , now for me this is another kiss of death line , it reminds me of the bands in the late 80’s and early 90’s that were given the tagline “The new smiths ” , i for one tend to be wary when a writer is directly compared to one of the greats of his own countries literature !! I did say on Grants post for his review of Honeymoon , which he had already order before the win after reading my review of search warrant , that maybe he was a little too subtle for English readers , in the fact that its good writing but not exciting , rather like Pamuk and LLosa both nobel winners that maybe just write  great books but not Standout books .But that said they both have been published most of their careers ,but maybe this is another reason , they have both been published mainly by one publisher were as Modiano books have come out on a number of publishers .Another reason maybe he is a little shy and isn’t interviewed a lot ,not a full enigma like Elena Ferrante or Thomas Pynchon  which maybe is a problem we like a writer we can’t see and ones we can see ,  but somepne  in-between we maybe just don’t get ! well a post of questions no answers I hope the Nobel win brings some more books by him I for one will be reading them .Maybe now he has won we will finally get to like him !

Have you a theory ?

Nobel Literature Prize 2014 Patrick modiano

The Search Warrant (eBook)

Another year waiting in front of the youtube channel for the live cast of the Nobel literature prize winner 2014 waiting for a rather splendid pair of wooden doors to open and for the world to be let in on this years winner and the winner this year  is Patrick modiano   here is an interview with the winner from France today ,I also reviewed his book The search warrant the other day , which for me is a perfect example of what they said in the announcement about memory as it is about his own family and Dora Bruder’s memories mixed together .

February 2020
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