Sleep of Memory by Patrick Modiano (translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti)

I’m trying to impose some order on my memories. Every one of them is a piece of the puzzle, but many are missing, and most of them remain isolated. Sometimes I manage to connect three or four, but no more than that. So I jot down bits and pieces that come back to me in no particular order, lists of names or brief phrases. I hope that these names, like magnets, will draw others to the surface, and that those bits of sentences might end of forming paragraphs and chapters that link together.

(p. 63)

It’s funny that although Sleep of Memory was published in English in 2018, I am the first to read this particular copy. The pages are crisp, and the binding cracks slightly when I turn them. Does no one in our city read Patrick Modiano?

I had not read his work myself, until this year with Tamara’s Paris in July. Family Record was the first book by Modiano that I picked up, and I became entranced by the dream-like state he induced. That, and some of his sentences which apply to my own heart:

It was the first time I’d given such spontaneous answers to questions about my life. Until then, I had always avoided them, as I felt a natural distrust toward any form of interrogation.

(p. 29)

If we could relive something we’d already experienced, in the same time, the same place, and the same circumstances, but live it much better than the first time, without the mistakes, hitches and idle moments, it would be like making a clean copy of a heavily revised manuscript…

(p. 60)

Ah, regret. Do-overs. That is a fruitless path of thought. Nevertheless, I go down it more times than I would willingly choose, especially as I get older. Perhaps it is a good thing that our “memories sleep,” which is one way that I understand this novel to be about.

In our memories blend images of roads that we have taken, and we can’t recall what regions they cross.

(Last sentence of the book)