I Remain in Darkness

Off the Bookshelf

"I Remain in Darkness"

by Annie Ernaux, translated by Tanya Leslie

Seven Stories Press, 128 pp., $18.95

In A Woman's Story (1991), Ernaux wrote a spare and lovely account of her mother's life and eventual death from Alzheimer's. In her newest slim volume, Ernaux revisits her mother's last years in the form of diary entries. Why another book on her mother? Ernaux writes in the introduction that "The consistency and coherence achieved in any written work ... must be questioned whenever it is possible." The two books overlap in content, but the diary pages provide more immediacy and tension as the days pass and her mother's condition worsens. Some of the snippets are so polished one wonders how much Ernaux tinkered with them before publication. The quiet power of this account of losing a parent to a cruel disease is evident in the words Ernaux writes on the day her mother finally dies: "This moment was something I had never imagined or planned. I preferred it when she was crazy."

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I Remain in Darkness, Annie Ernaux

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