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Missing Person by Patrick Modiano

Missing Person (1978)

by Patrick Modiano

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (14)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Hutte, for instance, used to quote the case of a fellow he called "the beach man." This man had spent forty years of his life on beaches or by the sides of swimming pools, chatting pleasantly with summer visitors and rich idlers. He is to be seen, in his bathing costume, in the corners and backgrounds of thousands of holiday snaps, among groups of happy people, but no one knew his name and why he was there. And no one noticed when one day he vanished from the photographs.

A.S. Byatt once noted she finished David Mitchell's Ghostwritten at a busy airport baggage carousel and found the location infinitely appropriate. Likewise I found myself this morning in a darkened swirl of insomnia and read the final 100 pages of Missing Person. Periodically I stared about our quiet living room. I looked at where this afternoon I'll put the Christmas tree I buy at the supermarket. I looked out the window and the neighbors' seasonal lights. I don't question why we don't employ our own. I just don't. Life is often hazy and ill-defined. I wish I had the means at the disposal of Modiano's protagonist. I certainly liked this one better than my previous exposure to the Nobel Laureate. I think the sinister whispers of history were significant here. I'd recommend Missing Person as a premium point of departure for this strange author. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
داستان همچون کابوسی است نرم و آهسته و طولانی در مه با تصاویری که پس از بیداری تا ساعت‌ها در ذهن رژه می‌رود و تا روزها در ذهن می‌ماند. و آدم‌هایی که از دل تاریکی می‌آیند و در دل برف و سرما و بی سرانجام ناپدید می‌شوند. آدم‌هایی که هیچ نیستند مگر نیمرخی ضدنور در بالکن کافه‌ای بارانی... برخلاف ترجمه ضعیف (هرچند روان) در این کتاب بیش از دیگر آثار مودیانو شناور شدم. ( )
  MasoudBorbor | Jan 8, 2018 |
Guy Roland hasn’t known his true identity for at least a decade, since Paris was occupied during WWII. His name isn’t his own. It was given to him by his boss, Hutte, the owner of the detective agency where Guy has worked since he hired Hutte to discover his identity. It never happened. Now Hutte has retired to Nice, leaving Guy with time to search for clues to his past.

He criss-crosses Paris talking to people, garnering clues, doing research at Hutte’s empty office, and getting records from files through Hutte’s contacts. People share their memories, photos and mementos with Guy. He gets closer to his old identity until he’s pretty sure he’s there. Then he wants to find out what happened to his friends, which takes him eventually to Polynesia.

Modiano’s writing (and the translation) is entrancing, enthralling. The closing thought of the story as Guy peruses a childhood photo in which one of his lost companions is crying is “do not our lives dissolve into the evening as quickly as this grief of childhood?” ( )
  Hagelstein | Oct 20, 2016 |
When the 2014 Nobel prize winner in literature was announced, I had no idea who he was.

My library has many of his works. Largely in French. I know my French is not good enough to read the work of a Nobel prize winner.

I picked this book because it was fairly short. I good intro. And it is translated, of course.

And wow. What a little book. 4.5 stars.

This is the story of one "Guy Roland", who is trying to find his own history--lost to him sometime during WWII in occupied France. Who was he? What happened to him?

The pacing is fascinating, the cadence of the language is unusual. The story itself unwinds like a mysteryóîbut there are so many false leads. Or are they?

The ending, though, is less satisfying. We know what happened to one of his friends, maybe 2--but the others? What really happened to him? What was his original identity? What were they involved in? If he was really left to die on the mountain, how did he get out? ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
Ten years ago, amnesiac Guy Rowland hired a private investigator to figure out who he was and where he came from. Soon afterwards, the PI gave Guy a new identity and a job as the PI's assistant, saying that sometimes it's best not to remember who you are. But now that his good friend and employer has retired, Guy again begins his search for identity.

Reading this book made me understand why Modiano won the Nobel Prize in literature. The prose was almost poetic, and the imagery was gripping. For instance, he found a drained, emotionally dying clue to his past in a run-down bar. The whole chapter was filled with coffin and morgue imagery, complete with an "embalmed man" who observed everything, no matter how stimulating, without blinking an eye. All of Modiano's chapters were set up in this way - with vivid imagery fitting the clue that he had found - though the imagery was always dark and mysterious.

Unsurprising for a book about amnesia, the over-arching theme of the story was identity. Who am I? Does my past change who I am? These questions are explored as Guy's own vision of who he is transforms as he gets more clues. We can only wonder at the end if he's really found his real self, or if he's just adopted the identity of a man who fits the person Guy wants to be.

I definitely urge you to read Missing Person. I hope I find the time to read more Modiano in the future. ( )
  The_Hibernator | Dec 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Modianoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Borger, EduTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mohan, MonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weissbort, DanielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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"For ten years Guy Roland has lived without a past. His current life and name were given to him by his recently retired boss, Hutte, who welcomed him, a one-time client, into his detective agency. Guy makes full use of Hutte's files - directories, yearbooks, and papers of all kinds going back half a century - but leads to his former life are few. Could he really be that person in a photograph, a young man remembered by some as a South American attache? Or was he someone else, perhaps the disappeared scion of a prominent local family? He interviews strangers and is tantalized by half-clues until, at last, he grasps a thread that leads him through the maze of his own repressed experience."… (more)

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