Like: “They [his parents] would have saved Magdalena, if only someone had asked – gladly, bravely and without ruining my life. (That was how they saw it.)”
And: [Magdalena remembered the Viennese novelist who] “had taken some of her jewelry (she meant stolen) and pawned it and kept all the money”.
And: “(The apartment was looted during the occupation. When Magdalena came back, she had to sleep on the floor.)”
Most of all, however, these parenthetical observations build character and act like whispered confidences between narrator and reader.
How well we know him: “…(I did not separate soul from body, since the first did not exist)…”
How well we know the neighbourhood: “(A published of comic books has the place now.)”
How well we know what Magdalena would have read had she been a reader: “…(it was Bella by Jean Giraudoux)…”.
And how well we know what it is like to be on a train in WWII when accompanying a young woman who is escaping persecution: “…(no train is so still as one under search)…”.
Both Henri Grippes and Mavis Gallant have truths to share with us as readers.
And slipping them into parentheses could have the effect of making these details unworthy.
But here they are elevated, transforming ciphers on the page into believable characters.
And as for Magdalena: will she yield yet again, like Poche?