Book Review ""Dans le café de jeunesse perdue"and "Vernon Subutex Vol II"

"Dans le café de jeunesse perdue" by Patrick Modiano and "Vernon Subutex 2" by Virginie Despentes, aka books #14 and #15 of #annareadsbooks2017. When I finished the Modiano, I closed it in a bit of a daze. I knew that I'd just experienced something beautiful, but what, exactly? In many ways, it felt like I'd read a sequel or prologue to the first Modiano I read (from last year's challenge) even though none of the characters were the same. When I mentioned this to friends the consensus was deafening: all Modiano books are beautiful, heartbreaking, stunning... and all the same. I think that the problem is that the reader is positioned so goddamn far away from the characters, that you have no idea what is happening or why they are doing anything. So when they do something dramatic, it seems out of place and unjustified. And when the readers are positioned within a character, the character is so lacking in self awareness that even they don't know what they are doing, or why. I feel about them the same way I do about an elegant, interesting couple in a cafe near me: they are obviously real, and beautiful, but I just don't care what happens to them that much. The more I think about this, the more it annoys me. I'm not in a hurry to read Modiano again, even though he writes so beautifully, I feel cheated. Harrumph. I did not have the same experience with Despentes second best selling volume AT ALL and although it also takes place in Paris, these two books couldn't be more different. Despentes thrusts you so deeply into a character, and brings them to life so thoroughly and vividly and truthfully that even though you really understand why they do the things they do, you almost dont care because you're just enjoying inhabiting their skin so much that the plot is secondary. I am in awe of how well Despentes occupies so many different lives, characters with vastly different backgrounds and outlooks and experiences. They are often broken shitty people, written without apology or affection. It's a book that you can't put down, and it transports you. The language and slang is still a bit of a barrier for me. #virginiedespentes #patrickmodiano #vernonsubutex2 #bookworm