The diary form can contain the jostle of irreconcilable emotions. Many of Ernaux’s entries are acts of observation that can be both brutal and excruciatingly tender: how her mother’s features sag, her hands are gnarled, the forefinger sticking out at the knuckles, her body, once so strong, is white and flaccid, her mouth gapes, leers, distorts. I Remain in Darkness is about mortal decay and physical disintegration as much as it is about dementia and the mind unravelling... There is an intense claustrophobia in this slim, harrowing memoir. The writer and reader are trapped in the fetid room where her mother lives while outside seasons turn and the world continues like a dream of elsewhere. They are trapped in the present tense into which memories and anticipatory dread wash, and by the insistent account of the old body on which time is doing its work.