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MEslaymaker

MEslaymaker

 

 

A Frozen Woman - Annie Ernaux
Readers seem to hate or love Ernaux, and I am among the latter, though I can take her only in small doses. Since most of what she writes is short, that's easy to do. Her sort of literature has been called "womanist," and an interest in the psychology of women is probably a prerequisite for liking her at all.

There's a severity to her signature narrative voice that strikes me as very French in a perhaps stereotypical but also compelling (commanding?) way. The voice sometimes becomes a nagging dissonance, at odds with the intimate relationships and raw emotions at the heart of her stories. On the other hand, the dissonance makes for a refreshingly nonsentimental and provocative take on the romantic.

The severity is tempered by a stream-of-consciousness immediacy that makes the details involving and personal, and that's important here, in what amounts to a thirty-something woman's (Ernaux's) memoir about growing up. Translation makes a difference, of course, and though I'm partial to Tanya Leslie's, Linda Coverdale does a good job, if you like this sort of thing.