Like those old friends whom we haven't seen for years and, out of the blue, they tell us details – lavish or laughable – of their love life that we could not even suspect, so it is with Annie Ernaux's latest book The Young Man (Cabaret Voltaire/ Angle), where he narrates the relationship that the last Nobel Prize for Literature had with a boy thirty years younger.
If it already gave us the feeling that Ernaux lives everything to be able to write it, here she confesses it herself: a Literature student who admired her wanted to meet her, they went to dinner, he kept quiet the whole time out of shyness but she invited him to have a drink at his house... because he felt like writing. "I have often made love to force myself to write," for the state of mind that follows her orgasm makes her feel that "there is no greater pleasure than writing a book."
The relationship took shape and the new couple submitted to the scrutiny of society: in restaurants, beaches or the streets where they walked hand in hand... Ernaux says: "I was with a 25-year-old man so as not to have him constantly in front of me. , the scarred face of a man my age, that of my own aging. Before A,. mine was also younger. Men had known it for a long time, I didn't understand in the name of what they should have deprived me of”. More: “Our relationship could be seen from the benefit angle. He gave me pleasure and made me relive what I would never have imagined he could relive. For him to offer her trips, to save her from looking for a job that would have kept her from being so available, seemed like a fair deal to me, especially since I was the one making the rules. He was in a dominant position”.
The work, very short, can be read in less than an hour and is related to Pura pasión (1992), that book in which he recounts his obsessive idyll with a married diplomat from an eastern country. If there was a trace of sadness there, this has a happy ending: from the boy's apartment, he saw the hospital building where he was treated as a young man for the bleeding caused by his clandestine abortion. That motivated her to write one of her great works, The Event. The Ernaux method of stimulating writing is infallible.