Reading this reminded me of a trip to the National Museum of the Philippines. I went there for the masterpieces, but found myself spending more time, and being most delighted, in a room full of practice sketches by Amorsolo.
Exteriors are sketches, little fragments of writing that feel like ingredients for a larger canvas; and Annie Ernaux is the great artist who guides readers to become keener observers of people, of gestures, of the world beyond the intimacy of the self, of exteriors.
Peruse the sketches more carefully and find priceless lessons on writing and observing. Once in a while, we need an artist to lead us to details we should pay attention to. Once in a while, we need an Annie Ernaux to take our hand.