Friday, 10 October 2014

'Dans la rue': a few thoughts on Patrick Modiano

Like many, I had not heard of Patrick Modiano when he was announced yesterday as the 2014 winner of the Nobel Literature prize.  He sounds like a lovely man, overwhelmed by the news. I listened to a short interview here in French and this illuminating discussion in English. He was walking in the Jardin du Luxembourg when he got the call he'd won.  I love that he was 'dans la rue' when he heard the news. 'Dans la rue' is one of the first, most simple phrases you learn in  French and  Patrick Mondiano is 'dans la rue' when he hears his words have just won him the Nobel prize for literature. I also love - from a writer's perspective -  that his work fuses autobiography and fiction and his books are only 100 pages, shorter than the length of the typical publishing house model - probably that is why he has not (yet) been widely translated into English.

I can still read French novels - slowly, slowly - if they are not too taxing. I downloaded a Kindle sample of Modiano's Pour que tu ne perdes pas dans le quartier yesterday but it will most likely be on the virtual shelf for a good wee while with all the other samples. (I started reading  Véronique Olmi's Bord de mer in paperback a couple of years ago but it was too bleak to finish.  I may go back though.)

I was living in France 32 years ago, exactly, I'd just started my year abroad, the third year of my joint Honours French and English degree. I was ill from the start, I'd gone off to France, not knowing I had picked up the Coxsackie B4 virus (there had been an outbreak of this enterovirus at home in the west of Scotland). The rest, as they say, is history. I just  hope the next 32 years bring some real hope to people with  ME. I believe that if I had not spent the first decade fighting my illness, pushing myself, I would be more recovered than I am today. I didn't do GET, it was not yet invented, and I would have refused to do it, but I did do real damage by 'forcing' myself better even when I was clearly still very ill. So, please, can I say again if you have classic ME, rest, rest, rest, do not go near GET, the bizarre therapy peddled by those bizarre medics. They don't know what they are talking about. Listen to the doctors who *do* know, the informed ones, the educated ones.

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