Dwight Garner at the NYT:
His fingernails are ragged. He wears designer suits but his choice of underwear, cheap Russian tighty-whities, is poignant. When he gets drunk, he talks about Stalin. He likes the dumbest game shows. Maybe he’s K.G.B. He does not know how to unfasten garters.
The French writer Annie Ernaux’s new book, “Getting Lost,” comprises diary entries from 1988 through 1990; they recount her affair in Paris with a married Soviet diplomat. The sex is torrid, and described with a lemony eye for detail. “I realized that I’d lost a contact lens,” Ernaux writes. “I found it on his penis.”
S, as she refers to him, is a younger man. He’s in his mid-30s. Ernaux is approaching 50 and fearful of aging out of the game — the only game, to her mind, alongside writing.