An examination of the past self, a stranger who one is intimately familiar with and yet whom one cannot identify with. An examination of a madness. Writing and dissecting the memory as a medication. I don’t think I have read anything as searingly honest as this account of an affair, and now I want to read more of Annie Ernaux. Thankfully, there’s no judgement and shame here, just a clinical dismemberment. What does it mean to make someone you cannot have the object of your existence? She tries to reclaim herself. She visits the site of an old abortion. She takes a vacation in Florence. Early in the book, she writes:

When he left me more time between his phone call and his visit, three or four days, I imagined with disgust all the work I would have to do and the social engagements I would have to attend before seeing him again. I would have liked to have done nothing else but wait for him.

Five thousand miles away from Annie Ernaux, and fifteen hundred years apart, Valluvar had written:

Sleepless when he’s not here, sleepless when he is,
Either way my eyes never rest.
Ku.1179

I suppose to give in, break, and pick what’s left up, this is part of everyone’s journey.