- Book: The Black Notebook
- Location: Paris
- Author: Patrick Modiano
3.5* “Modiano takes up his struggle with memory again, resuscitating people and place in one magnificent, impressionistic tracking shot” (Marianne Payot, Express) – and this quote wonderfully sums up for me the experience of reading this novella.
Jean is looking back several decades to the 1960s, a time when Dannie featured in his life. Paris – and particularly Montparnasse – cradles the story, and place and storyline become inextricably linked.
There are broad brushstrokes of scenes, a haze that envelops his struggle with memory, darker forces which he tries to lock down as he walks the streets all these years later, driven by jottings and notes (all manner of things that catch his eye) in the black notebook of the title.
There is a fluency to the writing, translated by Mark Polizzotti and an illusory, ethereal sense to the story. Nothing stays the same but Paris is a constancy as the characters come in and out of focus. I could see the charm and evocative story-telling but for me I struggled to anchor down the narrative sufficiently that I could really, fully engage.