Gary Percesepe ~ This Era

This era will be remem­bered as our Vichy peri­od, that shad­owy era in France where the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors sought to blend in with the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, but were con­tin­u­ous­ly called out, and inter­ro­gat­ed, where­upon they fab­ri­cat­ed elab­o­rate denials and intri­cate webs of deceit. The GOP must be held account­able, but his­to­ry sug­gests there will be incen­tives to for­get. In time every­thing is for­got­ten. In such ways does his­to­ry repeat itself. The first time as farce, the sec­ond as tragedy. To remem­ber is to resist. And to risk ones life. Even the sim­ple act of notic­ing can make one a prophet. Prophets, as we know, have short lives. Collaborators shape shift, deny, deflect, rein­vent them­selves. The Vichy peri­od in France is an emp­ty hole of mem­o­ry, a void. Patrick Modiano remem­bers. It is his one true lit­er­ary obses­sion. For this hero­ic act of remem­ber­ing in an age of for­get­ting he was award­ed the Nobel prize in lit­er­a­ture in 2014. He has not stopped remem­ber­ing. But his nov­els are filled with gaps, fade outs, ellipses, false starts, unre­li­able nar­ra­tors— even the love sto­ries are detec­tive sto­ries, where lovers strug­gle to cre­ate ref­er­ence points as the world dis­ap­pears, where a street name and a ref­er­ence to a local café are des­per­ate attempts to claw back into exis­tence a world well lost. Those who naive­ly believe that the whole truth about this bru­tal law­less crim­i­nal white régime will one day be revealed are advised to read Modiano and try their best to ignore him. In an age of for­get­ting remem­ber­ing is heroic.


Gary Percesepe is the author of eight books, most recent­ly The Winter of J, a poet­ry col­lec­tion pub­lished by Poetry Box. He is Associate Editor at New World Writing. Previously he was an assis­tant fic­tion edi­tor at Antioch Review. His work has appeared in Christian Century, Maine Review, Brevity, Story Quarterly, N + 1, Salon, Mississippi Review, Wigleaf, Westchester Review, PANK, The Millions, Atticus Review, Antioch Review, Solstice, and oth­er places. He resides in White Plains, New York, and teach­es phi­los­o­phy at Fordham University in the Bronx.