Patrick Modiano (author) & Sempé (illustrator)
Gallimard, 2009 (1988)
Literature – young adult, french, 99 hlm.
This petit book from a french writer, Patrick Modiano, tells a story about a french ballet dancer living in New York, Catherine Certitude, when she was remembering, in a nostalgic manner, her childhood life in Paris with her dad. Her life was among rue d’Hauteville in the tenth arrondissement, and the school, the dancing classes, his father’s office, and ultimately the affectionate conversations with her dad. Dad was always there in the time while her mom, also a ballet dancer, had gone back to America, to her home country. After 3 years of separation and ‘having mom only in the form of letters’, Catherine and her father rejoined the mother in New York.
In the times of difficult situations, Catherine, who was wearing glasses, would put down her glasses and the world would become blur. She would then enter into a dreamy world, beautiful and rather unreal. This is a simple story told in a light and ludic way about a piece of childhood, where being in a dream is still perfectly fine, and about the warmth of dad’s companion.
The theme of father in Modiano’s works is said to be recognizable as one of his central themes. Having not known very well his father himself, as he was almost always away from his life, Modiano developed continuously the theme of searching identity (of self and others) and of the paternal love. This book also quite much reflects the story of Modiano’s family, where his mother is also an artist.
Illustrated by the formidable sketches and water color works of Sempé, this little book has become an enjoyable reading and art in hand. Jean-Jacques Sempé is a famous french illustrator whose works are well recognized, among other things, in the series of Le Petit Nicolas (together with René Goscinny).
Modiano was born in Boulogne-Billancourt in 1945 of an italian jews father and a flamande (Belgium) mother, and has written many novels (contemporary literature) and scenarios.
Paris, 7 juin 2010