Friday, October 16, 2015

Patrick Modiano's "So You Don't Get Lost In The Neighborhood"

I finished this book a few days ago. I have been stewing about what to say and thinking of how to rate this. Let's start with the basics. So You Don't Get Lost In The Neighborhood is written by 2014 Nobel Prize winning author Patrick Modiano. Prior to this book I had never heard of him or read any of his previous works. The following is the plot summary taken from Goodreads:

In the stillness of his Paris apartment, Jean Daragane has built a life of total solitude. Then a surprising phone call shatters the silence of an unusually hot September, and the threatening voice on the other end of the line leaves Daragane wary but irresistibly curious. Almost at once, he finds himself entangled with a shady gambler and a beautiful, fragile young woman, who draw Daragane into the mystery of a decades-old murder. The investigation will force him to confront the memory of a trauma he had all but buried.  With So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood Patrick Modiano adds a new chapter to a body of work whose supreme psychological insight and subtle, atmospheric writing have earned him worldwide renown — including the Nobel Prize in Literature. This masterly novel, now translated into twenty languages, penetrates the deepest enigmas of identity and compels us to ask whether we ever know who we truly are.

The summary sounded intriguing and being that I love a good mystery I thought this would be the perfect book to introduce me to the author. But I was fooled. This book is not the typical mystery. This story is more of a look into the mysteries of the mind. To determine if what a person remembers is fact or fiction. How over time our memories become skewed or forgotten all together. It wasn't the type of mystery I was expecting, and because of that I was disappointed. 

I was sucked in at the beginning but quickly lost interest because I just couldn't engage or relate to any of the characters. The bulk of this story is about the main character diving into his past memories and the plot just didn't flow for me. "Clues" came at odd times in the story, just like memories of the past sometimes appear suddenly in a person's mind. It was confusing, at times, trying to decipher what time (present or past) the story was in and also what elements of the story were real or a false memory. There were way too many side stories (memories) that didn't have anything to do with the main story. By the end of the book I just didn't care what happened or why it happened, but just wanted the book to end so I could move on to the next.

I really don't have much more to say about this work. It was such a short novel with no real "meat". Yes, there were a few interesting parts, but overall there was nothing spectacular or even memorable about the book. I expected more from an award winning author. Perhaps this story got lost in the translation from French to English? 

I also think that Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and even my library should not list this book as a mystery/thriller. Labeling it as such just sets the reader up for a huge disappointment. This was a 2 star read for me. 

Happy Reading! 

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