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From being fascinated by the prose to touching the pages delicately, admiring the typeset with my fingers, and looking for more minimalism, I ventured into another work—short yet impactful, insightful, and a perfect addition to my library.

Ernaux’s observations are nothing if not exact, accurate, and faithful; they are as detailed as they are non-judgmental. At one point in her life, Ernaux moved to a “new town” on the outskirts of Paris, and since it was a place with no history so far, she began keeping a journal to record history in the making. One of the key observations, which Ernaux makes in the introduction, is that for twenty years she has lived in Cergy-Pontoise, a new town forty kilometres outside Paris. I need to become involved in a lengthy, structured process (unaffected by chance events and meetings). In the way the others have constructed “Found” novels from items on the Internet or social media, Ernaux was doing the same decades earlier, from real life.

But at the same time, the book takes place in France, where in 2004, Institut Montaigne estimated that there were 51 million (85%) white people of European origin. Nobody thinks in novel form, so as nice as it is, it’s not a realistic reproduction of the thought process. Exteriors is in many ways the most ecstatic of Ernaux's books – the first in which she appears largely free of the haunting personal relationships she has written about so powerfully elsewhere, and the first in which she is able to leave the past behind her. I n a few years from now, in the middle of hypermarkets, we shall probably see cinema screens, promotional lectures on painting or literature, maybe even lessons on computers. As per I find Ernaux sometimes illuminating, but mostly less than impressive and at times, pretentious.

This was a shorter and older work, also less personal than the auto fiction she is more known for, but it still is very much an interesting read. Admirable for its quiet grace as well as its audacity in a willingness to note (and thus make noteworthy) the smallest parts of life. On the train going to Saint-Lazare, an old woman settles in a seat near the aisle; she is talking to a young boy – possibly her grandson – who is still standing: ‘Why are you so restless?Reading Ernaux, I was reminded of how the pathway to owning the surrounding around us by putting the observations in a tabloid is a very indirect way of knowing ourselves.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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