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I Remain in Darkness Paperback – 5 Apr 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 94 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press,U.S. (5 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583220526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583220528
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 0.7 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 826,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alzheimer's is a cruel disease for those who have it and even more cruel for those who know the sufferers. Everyone who knows someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's should read this book to prepare themselves for the experiences ahead. You'll need all of your strength and preparation!
The title is the last sentence the author's mother wrote before she died. One of the frightening aspects of the disease is watching the person discover the loss of faculties, as they occur. Soon, you are not recognized, and the person can lose all of their possessions. They may have to be tied down to keep them from wandering off and getting hurt. Physical deterioration is often not far behind.
The book is a series of notes the author made on occasions when she was with her mother from January 1984 through April 1986, and includes a few days after her mother's death.
You will find a lot of pain here. The author finds that she is revolted by the affliction, at how her mother changes, by the memories she has of things she should not have done, and in her own reactions to her mother's changes. As a result, there's a lot of guilt and remorse to deal with. By reading how Ms. Ernaux went through this, you may have an easier time forgiving yourself if you are subject to the same feelings in the future.
The book is filled with pretty direct stories and references to things that can be upsetting: People exposing themselves, getting sores in private places, human excretion, unpleasant smells and sights, and rough language. You will hear, see, feel, smell, and taste what the author experienced. In this area, I found the translation a little strange at times. Several crude words would be used, then a reference would be made that seemed to be employing a euphemism for a more direct word.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Gripping Perspective on Losing a Parent to Alzheimer's 24 Jun. 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Alzheimer's is a cruel disease for those who have it and even more cruel for those who know the sufferers. Everyone who knows someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's should read this book to prepare themselves for the experiences ahead. You'll need all of your strength and preparation!
The title is the last sentence the author's mother wrote before she died. One of the frightening aspects of the disease is watching the person discover the loss of faculties, as they occur. Soon, you are not recognized, and the person can lose all of their possessions. They may have to be tied down to keep them from wandering off and getting hurt. Physical deterioration is often not far behind.
The book is a series of notes the author made on occasions when she was with her mother from January 1984 through April 1986, and includes a few days after her mother's death.
You will find a lot of pain here. The author finds that she is revolted by the affliction, at how her mother changes, by the memories she has of things she should not have done, and in her own reactions to her mother's changes. As a result, there's a lot of guilt and remorse to deal with. By reading how Ms. Ernaux went through this, you may have an easier time forgiving yourself if you are subject to the same feelings in the future.
The book is filled with pretty direct stories and references to things that can be upsetting: People exposing themselves, getting sores in private places, human excretion, unpleasant smells and sights, and rough language. You will hear, see, feel, smell, and taste what the author experienced. In this area, I found the translation a little strange at times. Several crude words would be used, then a reference would be made that seemed to be employing a euphemism for a more direct word. Is the translation more or less crude than the author intended? I don't know.
The reason I did not give the book five stars is that it could really use a little more perspective than just the notes. Apparently, the experience was so painful that the author decided to let the notes speak for themselves. Perhaps in the future, Ms. Ernaux will choose to revisit this work, and put it into more context.
Is this work contrived by a fine writer, or is it simple human drama? I'm inclined to think it is the latter. Few would portray themselves and their mother this way simply to entertain readers. I could feel the searing pain as I read the entries. I think you will, too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another jewel - can one expect less from Annie Ernaux? 7 May 2000
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Annie Ernaux is an author whose appeal is difficult to define - she writes autobiographical prose that is sparse, clear, honest and a bit hard. In her very particular experience, she writes prose that is emotionally universally true.
The mother we meet in "I Remain in Darkness" is a very different woman than we met in "A Woman's Place". The strong woman previously depicted descends into dependence. Written in the form of a dated journal, Ms. Ernaux traces her mother's descent into Alzheimer's - first recognizing that her mother can no longer live alone, she moves her mother in with her; this is followed by the recognition that she can no longer care for her mother; finally, her mother dies in a nursing home.
A simple and common experience. But Annie Ernaux in a slim volume captures the changing emotions that follow the changes in her mother's situation in a way few authors can.
Vestiges of Pain 15 July 2009
By John Thorndike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A short, almost miniature volume from the French writer Annie Ernaux, the author of Simple Passion, The Possession, and several other memoirs, essays and novels. I Remain in Darkness ("Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit") is the last sentence her mother ever set to paper, in the midst of her erratic decline.

The memoir is made up of unedited journal entries, most of them written while Ernaux was visiting her mother in a long-term geriatric hospital. The rawness of the journal is often electrifying, because nothing stands between the reader and Ernaux's reactions, her self-castigation, her horror at how far her mother has plunged into dementia.

She writes, "Her body is white and flaccid. I started to sob. Because of time passing, because of the past. And because the body which I see is also mine."

And this: "The disheveled hair, the hands searching for each other, the right grasping the left like an unknown object. She can't find her own mouth; every times she tries, the cake winds up to one side....I am dismayed at such degradation and bestiality."

These pages, Ernaux warns us, are not at all an objective report of her mother's last years. Instead, they should be read as "vestiges of pain." There are plenty of Alzheimer's memoirs in which the author puts the best face on this terrible disease. Not Ernaux. She leveled me in a hundred pages, and her book has stayed with me from the day I read it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brutal, Unflinching, uncomfortable Honesty 12 Oct. 2009
By Kieran Matthew ODriscoll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have enjoyed all of Annie Ernaux's 'romans autobiographiques' in their original French, over the last few years, including the French original of 'I remain in Darkness', the rendering of a French title which literally translates as 'I have not come out of my Darkness/my Night'.

The concept of the oxymoronically-termed 'autobiographical novel' seems to be championed by Ernaux and other present-day French writers. Over the years, Ernaux has written very intimate texts about herself, her parents, significant life events and about French society as a whole. In one work, she recounts how, one Sunday afternoon when she was aged twelve, her father tried to kill her mother. In another work, while she is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer, her lover comments that she is the first woman he has been with whose vagina doesn't have pubic hair. In another work, she and her much younger lover take photographs, on the mornings after their lovemaking, of the clothes, shoes and other objects strewn randomly about the floor of their apartment the night before as they passionately undressed and made their way to the bedroom. In yet another text, Ernaux speaks openly about her affair with a Russian diplomat and her obsessive passion and jealousy throughout their affair.

But perhaps the most brutally honest and shocking image of all is that of the foetus which she flushes down the toilet as a young university student, following a horrific backstreet abortion.

I focus on the foregoing images because what I most admire about Ernaux is her fearless self-revelation. She regularly shocks her reader. She is as controversial and as provocative as her compatriot, Marguerite Duras, in the extent of her self-disclosure.

But does she merely set out to be controversial for the sheer hell of it? I believe not. Personally, she has inspired me to be similarly self-revealing in my own writings. So I have begun to write about personal areas, intimate spaces of my life which I would have previously considered it unthinkable to share. Perhaps to write about such issues is cathartic for Ernaux and for her readers.

Annie Ernaux's writings have given me the courage to speak publicly and write about the intensely private areas of sexuality, coming out, coping with depression and obsessive anxieties, dealing with the jealousy of others as well as my own jealousy, being bullied as well as bullying, my recurring nightmares about my parents who died within a few months of each other. Nightmares in which they repeatedly suffer, disintegrate and die. Death is rehearsed over and over again.

So if and when I write my own 'roman autobiographique', it will certainly be dedicated to, and inspired by, Annie Ernaux.

I welcome this and other translations of her works into English, as literary translation helps to spread the important 'memes' of the highly original, thought-provoking texts of writers such as Ernaux.
The condition of the book and arrival time went as ... 2 Nov. 2014
By D - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The condition of the book and arrival time went as advertised. Thanks.
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