Read #142

Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux (trans by Tanya Leslie)

48 pages in which Ernaux describes an affair she had with a married man. It is not about the sex, or the where, what and the how of it, but it is a description of how she spent the time between his visits, simply waiting for his next call – this, it transpires was in the late 1980s / early 1990s, so, before mobiles, internet and all the rest of those enablers. He had her phone number; she did not have any way to contact him. Instead she waited and longed.

It created a different appreciation of time for her. She describes how she was utterly engrossed in this man, and the imperative of not missing his next call – after all, she feared, it may be his last. She details, the tidying of her apartment, the importance of selecting the right clothes including lingerie – it must not be things he has seen her in before – the arrangements she has to make with her own two sons (young adults at the time). She does not say she was in a relationship herself, it would appear not.

She does not appear to wish to dramatise or make things sound more than they were. The writing is clean, spare and honest. It also left a certain hollow-ness.

In terms of biography; Ernaux comes from a working class back ground and has risen to be a professor of literature, with many awards to her credit. It seems that she writes mainly in an autobiographical style, but linking this into sociological themes.

Yet another engrossing read from Fitzcarraldo.

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