what are you reading?

I finally finished a thriller/mystery/procedural - whatever they’re called these days. It’s a genre with a lot of different categories now. It took me a while to read Peter Robinson’s A Dedicated Man, because I read it only when I pedalled on the stationary bicycle - the one with a chair so I can sit and hold a book to read - in the gym and I don’t get down there every day (late afternoon). Maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy it very much; it didn’t grip me. There were too many intervals between my reading sessions. I think it was too cosy. Not that I like violence but nothing else held my attention. I’m going to try another Linwood Barclay next. This Canadian writer used to be a columnist for the Toronto Star and came to the thriller/whatever genre relatively late in his career- very successfully. Talk about second trajectory!

i read Dora Bruder, University of California Press, translated into English by Joanna Kilmartin only after it had won for its French author, Patrick Modiano, the Nobel Prize for Literature, 2014. The book was given to me by a friend whose choices i usually enjoy. Not this one, though I can see why he liked it. it reads like a detective novel as the first person narrator (I guess it’s Modiano) investigates the life and death of a young Jewish girl whose name he came across in an old (1941) missing persons notice.His father refused to wear the yellow star and managed to escape Auschwitz; Dora Bruder was not so fortunate. Modiano is compulsive in his tracking of the girl and in imagining or trying to recreate the life she must have lived. His detailed re-creation at times reads like a GPS, or something like it and tells me more about the streets of Paris than I can possibly remember (or care to know). I can understand his obsession in a way because I was similarly hooked by some of the diarists I read that I couldn’t let go of. I wrote a book of poetry in the form of dramatic monologues about the ones who kept on speaking to me.

I looked up Modiano after I read the book. I recognized some events in his life from descriptions of them happening to him, or the narrator, in Bruder. From Wikipedia:

“Modiano's novels all delve into the puzzle of identity, and of trying to track evidence of existence through the traces of the past. Obsessed with the troubled and shameful period of the Occupation—during which his father had allegedly engaged in shady dealings—Modiano returns to this theme in all of his novels, book after book building a remarkably homogeneous work. ‘After each novel, I have the impression that I have cleared it all away,’ he says. ‘But I know I'll come back over and over again to tiny details, little things that are part of what I am.’

NOTE THIS: “In the end, we are all determined by the place and the time in which we were born.’”