Underground Time: A Novel - Delphine de Vigan This is life in the 21st century: Wake up and hear the noises of the city around you. Heave your body into a train car, squeezing every last inch of yourself into a vacancy. Physically contact several people during your commute; feel utterly alone. Sit at your desk and consider your work. Encounter numerous people throughout the day; connect with none of them. Push your body into the train again; stand mere centimeters from several other human beings. Return home, exhausted by your solitude, miserable from your loneliness. This is life today.Mathilde and Thibault are professionals in Paris, a city many consider to be the most magical and beautiful in the world, but they both ache from the city’s harshness. In beautiful yet disjointed passages, de Vigan describes the day of both Mathilde and Thibault. Unsatisfied with their jobs, they wander, alone, throughout the city. Reading about loneliness is both comforting yet boring. It’s reassuring to realize people have suffered from the same feelings as you, but overall, ennui isn’t terribly interesting. That’s why Underground Time wasn’t a spectacular read for me. Nevertheless, it moves quickly and the emotions it evokes are worth more than the less than exciting plot. This is a very French novel. Things are depicted as they are rather than how we wish them to be. which explains the absolutely wonderful ambiguous ending where Mathilde and Thibault fail to meet and absolve the other’s loneliness It’s also a very 21st century novel. Gone are novels detailing epic fights or webs of intrigue; nowadays we have these languorous, psychological works, a trend I could come to support if I can learn to spell languorous and psychology can be made more interesting. The best part of reading this novel is determining what, if anything, de Vigan blames for Mathilde and Thibault’s smothering solitude. Personally, I think we are at fault. We can blame the city, urban life, and business culture. We can say the city divides people, separates them until they have no one to turn to. But there are several instances throughout the novel where Thibault or Mathilde could have struck up a relationship or merely a conversation with someone else. But they don’t. The city is absolute. Favorite Quotation:“His life is in this incessant toing and froing, these exhausted days, these stairways, these lifts, these doors which close behind him. His life is at the heart of the city. And the city, with its noise, covers the complaints and the murmurs, hides its poverty, displays its dustbins and its wealth, and ceaselessly increases its speed.”Discussing urban solitude and business malaise is popular right now. I recently watched Medianeras, an Argentinian film concerned with the same questions as Underground Time. I have the same criticisms of the film as I do the book: meaningful but ultimately flat because of the uninteresting subject matter.