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Missing Person (Verba Mundi) (Verba Mundi Book) Paperback – November 30, 2004
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'The best place to fling oneself into Mr. Modiano's oeuvre.' --New York Times
Top Customer Reviews
I'd like to recall here a very astute comment made sometime back by Anne Korkokeakivi, writing for THE MILLIONS, where she noted that French novels tend to be "... dark, searching, philosophical, autobiographical, self-reflective, and/or poetic (without being overwritten)."
Patrick Modiano's "Missing Person" precisely fits this description. It is all these things, dark, searching, self-reflective and yes, poetic.
Consider the first lines: "I am nothing. Nothing but a pale shape, silhouetted that evening against the café terrace, waiting for the rain to stop; the shower had started when Hutte left me."
Amazing, isn't it? The opening sentence is just three words, but how they resound. I am nothing. That is of course the whole theme of the book.Read more ›
"Mistah Kurz, he dead!" Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
"The empires of our time were shortlived, but they have altered the world forever. Their passing away is their least significant feature." Naipaul.
Heaped upon this lost purpose is the contribution of a subsequent interventionist: "If we fail, we will drag half the world down with us into the same abyss." Hitler.
MISSING PERSON illuminates European consciousness numbed and stupified by the fallout and consequences of these 3 historical developments.
This novel is a masterpiece.
Yes, it is a totally implausible concept, but Modiano is less interested in the mechanism of Guy's search for self than in what that search will reveal. The detective will follow a number of clues, each time finding somebody who will give him a tiny part of his story, but not the whole of it. The story is implausible too in that Guy gets almost none of the "Why bother me?" kinds of reaction that one might expect. Almost all his informants seem glad to talk with him; they invite him to their homes and give him boxes of souvenirs to go away with. This, even as Guy himself is having to pose as someone else to gain their confidence, trying on one possible role after another, as he gradually works out who he must be. And, as he does so, he begins to have flashes of memory of his own.
Artificial though the mechanism may be, there is none of the surrealism that one associates with many mid-century French writers. Modiano copies the "policier" style perfectly; his noir settings and vivid dialogue could come from the pen of Simenon or any of his followers. "The lights in the bar dimmed, as they do in some dance-halls at the beginning of a slow fox.Read more ›
MISSING PERSON is good--I liked it, though my socks were still snuggled against my feet when I was through. However, it is one of those persnickety books--once finished, it hangs around like dream fragments in the morning. Probably the two highest compliments that I can pay it is that I would like to read some more of Mr. Modiano, and that at some point, I'd like to read MISSING PERSON again. Although the two books share no details in common except the nationality of their authors and a certain tone, I'm reminded of another recent Nobel winner, J.M.G. Le Clezio, whose The Prospector also had a dreamy feel to it. Though 'unresolved' may be an accurate way to describe them both, neither felt incomplete, though readers who dislike loose ends might be disappointed.
MISSING PERSON is the story of a man whose quest to regain the memory of his past takes him from one end of Paris to the other, teasing out connections and associations, slowly building a picture of his time in occupied France.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nobel Prize winner of 2014 Patrick Modiano is a French novelist who was born in Paris in 1945. He is the author of over twenty books, the winner of several prizes for his writings. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Israel Drazin
A somewhat tiresome read; difficult to empathize with characters & disappointing prose. It just never met my expectations.Published 3 months ago by Audrey Naarden
Modiano paints a view of Paris either during or immediately before the outbreak of WWII that I found original and compelling. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gavnook
Ten years ago, amnesiac Guy Rowland hired a private investigator to figure out who he was and where he came from. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rhonda Spoelstra
Modiano has a thing with people obsessed by the past, or better, their personal past. In this novel a certain Guy Roland is looking for who he really is, 10 years after he lost his... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Marc L
Read for my book club. Felt like I chased several addresses in Paris, but I didn't quite "get" the story. I'll have to try to reread before book club day.Published 6 months ago by Vito
I loved this book. Smiled and cryed while reading it. It puts one in the middle of what is going on with the common people during the War between the States. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ann Page
My book club discussed this book a few days ago. 20 people, 20 different perspectives. From the comments of the group and the moderator, I developed an appreciation of the book... Read morePublished 6 months ago by David
This is elegant writing about our universal search to find out who we are. It also raises the existential question about whether who we are ultimately really ever matters!Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer