So I managed to finish a story (reading one, not writing one) and it’s not even a complete book. I mean it is IN a book but even though I would love so desperately for it to count towards by Goodreads Reading Challenge (which is looking abysmal so far), it’s not going to yet.
The story I just finished reading is called La Place de l’etoile which is French for Instead of the Star. It is the first story in the Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano. To those of you who, like myself, haven’t heard about him, is a French author who’s had his work translated to over 30 languages and also won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2014.
Since I’m a sucker for literature that sounds even the slightest bit intelligent (I’m a snob, irrefutably so) I desperately wanted to buy this when I first saw this at a local bookstore that I recently discovered and fell in love with. So a work by a French author about the World War II occupation of Paris by the Germans? Why not?
Now I only finished the first story in this book and let me tell you, it was no mean feat. Modiano’s writing is so difficult to follow because the story jumps from seemingly realistic events to our main character’s fantastical imaginations. Add in a myriad French idioms and phrases, it was so confusing to read that I had to literally read each page twice. Exhausting. But, after a month, I’m done with the first story and regardless of how tiring it was to read, I actually liked it.
The story follows Raphael Schlemilovitch, a French Jew in Paris during the Nazi Occupation, and his adventures in his youth. From signing up for the Hitler Youth, being a part of a ridiculous sex-slave ring, to a radical anti-Semitic pimp in Paris, he bounces from one adventure to another with all the attachment of a feather on a wind. His wild notions and extravagant ideas and behaviors is very Gatsby-esque, an observation that our beloved Jew himself makes. Seriously, this is one of the most self-aware characters in a book (story) I’ve come across in a while.
Of course the writing, which I suspect was written for a completely different class of human beings from myself, was tiring to pour through and I felt it rather weakened the story a little bit but overall, it was actually a good story. Which leaves me secure in my skill for cover-buying. For now.