"Annie Ernaux's work," wrote Richard Bernstein in the New York Times
, "represents a severely pared-down Proustianism, a testament to the persistent, haunting and melancholy quality of memory." In the New York Times Book Review
, Kathryn Harrison concurred: "Keen language and unwavering focus allow her to penetrate deep, to reveal pulses of love, desire, remorse." In this "journal" Ernaux turns her penetrating focus on those points in life where the everyday and the extraordinary intersect, where "things seen" reflect a private life meeting the larger world. From the war crimes tribunal in Bosnia to social issues such as poverty and AIDS; from the state of Iraq to the world's contrasting reactions to Princess Diana's death and the starkly brutal political murders that occurred at the same time; from a tear-gas attack on the subway to minute interactions with a clerk in a store: Ernaux's thought-provoking observations map the world's fleeting and lasting impressions on the shape of inner life.