Patrick Modiano’s many detours into echoes, longings and tension

La-ca-jc-patrick-modiano-20150920-001David L. Ulin at the LA Times:

Patrick Modiano opens his most recent novel, “So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood,” with an epigraph from Stendhal: “I cannot provide the reality of events, I can only convey their shadow.” It's an almost perfect evocation of the book, not to mention Modiano's career.

The French writer, who won the Nobel Prize last year for a body of work as deft and beautiful as any in postwar European literature, is an excavator of memory — not only his own or those of his characters (many of whom bear, as J.D. Salinger once observed of his fictional alter ego Seymour Glass, “a striking resemblance to — alley oop, I'm afraid — myself”), but also that of Paris.

That's why his fiction resonates so deeply; it occupies an elusive middle ground between place and personality. At its center is the legacy of the German occupation, which Modiano, who was born in 1945, refers to in his memoir “Pedigree” as “the soil — or the dung — from which I emerged.” What he's suggesting is that history is both personal and collective, that identity is dependent, at least in part, on circumstance. This can refer to family — Modiano's mother, an actress, met his father, a black marketeer, in the morally blank landscape of Vichy Paris — but it also has to do with how the past appears to rise up from the streets around us, mingling with the present until we are no longer sure where (or when) we are.
more here.