“Time and again writes Patrick Modiano same story,” stated Ulf Olsson in Expressen already 1993 To more than twenty years afterwards, when the Frenchman has now been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the location of good and hurts the same.
As faithful Modianoläsare I have year after year, book after book, turned off his unwavering consistency. You know exactly what you get when you open one of his novels. Through the years, Modiano that nobody else has been his style devotee: a new Modiano is most likely another disassembled noir detective story, packed in deckarintrigens musts but swelled into melancholy and loneliness. It is very night streets, streetlights and half-empty Parisian cafes. In retrospect, it can be difficult to distinguish the different novels from each other. The atmosphere can really be summarized with a single image: Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” 1942.
“nights ‘grass’, which came out in Swedish last year, is how representative of the larger Paris romantic part of his authorship which by now consists of about thirty novels. A low-key and melancholy male jagberättare roam the city streets and remember something that happened a long time ago. In ‘nights’ grass’ is about the love affair with Dannie and attempts to come to grips with some shady types who flourished in the circle around her. Maybe it was the usual petty criminals. Or so they had connections to some kind of spy activity. But is it really so important?
Jean in ‘nights’ grass’ and the other of Modianos amateur sleuths resembles some sitting and staring at a picture and seeking pay attention to things they did not previously added notice. They become obsessed detective mystery, do research, calling number where no one answers, compare different addresses but rarely anywhere. As the most successful to detect any minor detail, filling in any single piece of the puzzle. “It’s funny how some details in our lives who have been invisible emerges twenty years later,” writes Jean in another place, “that when looking at an old family photo with a magnifying glass and sees a face or objects that had not had noticed … “. Further than this blurry face family photo will not.
It is rare occurrence that is the subject matter of Modianos artwork, rather the time since the, the nagging feeling that loss a few strong memories can evoke. For the narrator, it is ultimately not so important who was who and what was happening, as long as it can serve as material for romanticizing.
The other characters remain mappings in jagberättarens interior. The gaze penetrates straight through them and headed osvikligen back to herself in a melancholy loop. What emerges as important and real, that basically the only interesting, it’s man himself . Through all atmospheric melancholy, friendly and low-key melancholy and lovely night streets emerges a modernist solipsism, contemporary post-postmodern self-fixation: my personal story told in their own words.
It is itself of its time, shows Modiano. Man is his own story, his own fashion. The time that goes makes a smaller and smaller, it escapes between the fingers of one. The old archaeologist turned during his studies himself to a skeleton. After all, the presence of the other that makes an interesting, which makes the events taking place, which makes the passage of time palpable, while the absence only keeps for a fourth novel, halfway at best, if the author is skilled.
Modiano is superbly talented, and probably deserves the wide recognition as a Nobel Prize means. It’s a price that goes to the fine print, to the detail and mood, rather than the tired and sweeping stories. But sooner or later be reached, even as his faithful readers, yet a tipping point, about the forward center of each book, and begins to slowly lose interest.
About Modianos novels were novels they had been teeming. As novels, they are however far too one-sided and predictable. Modiano, like his narrator, hook up on a single image, a single sentiment which he mastered in full but never seem to leave. Remember that it was the only one left behind, after all these years, he repeats, over and over again. It’s a beautiful, evocative picture – though not particularly exciting. Future bittersweet time, we already know. The narcissistic life may be beautiful in the moment, but after the fact rather dull.
Maxim Grigoriev is a writer. He debuted in the spring with the short story collection “Cities” (Albert Bonnier Publishing.)