Sleep of Memory shows how literature trumps philosophy and political theory. Theory can’t show how our lives really are when the way they really are is not how we expect them to be ... [The book] takes us where we don’t expect. It shows what we’re conditioned not to expect by hundreds of years of misguided philosophy and humanism ... Read this book to find a way out of the modern liberal obsession with lines and dreams. They’re useless. Our memories 'blend images of roads that we have taken, and we can’t recall what regions they cross.'
We continue to be the beneficiaries of Modiano’s pain with this new novel, which has many of the satisfactions typical of a Modiano novel: absent parents, chance encounters, disappearing women, dalliances in the occult, the mysteries of Paris charted via specific streets and the seasons ... Compared to recent works, however, Sleep of Memory does not have the formal purity of The Black Notebook or the humor of So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood ... Sleep of Memory is missing these elements of formal purity and humor. Still, it has other virtues. First, it has some of the best aphorisms one can find in Modiano ... Second, there is an unforgettable evocation of domestic space when the narrator goes to visit a friend of a friend named Madeleine Péraud, who teaches yoga and occult sciences ... The third and final virtue has to do with horror. Sleep of Memory manages to attach a feeling not just of unease but of genuine terror to the past.
The laconic (fewer than 150 pages) semi-autobiographical story is shaped by a retrospective narrator's dreamlike memories of five women, whose lives intertwine with the semblance of 22-year-old Modiano, amid the lingering tension of collaboration in postwar Paris. It is an investigation into the enduring impact of 'encounters so brief they could've easily fallen into oblivion.' Though foreign in every sense of the word, Sleep of Memory beautifully captures the universally ambiguous sensation of recalling a distant memory. This account is for anyone who wonders 'whether they belonged to reality or the realm of dreams.'
A languid, novelistic portrait of the artist—winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 2014—as a young man ... A future biographer won’t be able to build much of a timeline of the events Modiano so evocatively describes, relics of a world that no longer exists. An elegant work of suggestion and misdirection.
Modiano sharply chronicles the intricate geographies of Paris, and the intimacies and legacies of fleeting scenes that happen within it ... For fans and newcomers alike, this is Modiano at his very best.