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The Years is a personal narrative of the period of 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present - even projections into the future - photos, books, songs, radio, television, and decades of advertising and headlines, contrasted with intimate conflicts and written notes from six decades of diaries. Local dialect, words of the time, slogans, brands, and names for ever-proliferating objects are given a voice here. The voice we recognize as the author's continually dissolves and re-emerges. Ernaux makes the passage of time palpable. Time itself, inexorable, narrates its own course, consigning all other narrators to anonymity. A new kind of autobiography emerges, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective.
On its 2008 publication in France, The Years came as a surprise. Although Ernaux had, for years, been hailed as a beloved best-selling and award-winning author, The Years was in many ways a departure: both an intimate memoir written by entire generations and a story of generations telling a very personal story.
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- Elin VanD
This book is impossible to rate. It is a phenomenal cultural history 1940-2017, (France, but relevant to USA and Europe). Many insightful observations, and captures the mood of those years. The intentionally non-personal point of view makes it hard to listen to, if you like a good story. Yet it is fascinating at the same time and hard to put down. Well written. Well read.
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