Sunday, March 17, 2024

"Things I Don't Want to Know" by Deborah Levy

Since I'm (cough!) already behind pace on my Goodreads goal for the year, I thought I'd try a shorter book for a change, since the ones I've been reading lately have been pretty long ones, both book club/readalong selections and my own picks. "Things I Don't Want to Know:  A Living Autobiography" by Deborah Levy is, in hardcover, just 163 well-spaced pages with generous margins and a large type size (also easy on my aging eyes, lol).  

I don't remember how I learned about Levy's "Living Autobiography" trilogy -- I probably read a review of it somewhere -- and then I saw all three volumes at the local bookstore and was captivated by the bold cover designs.  Eventually, I bought all three, and they've remained on my bookshelf since then (until now). (Books 2 & 3 in the trilogy are "The Cost of Living" and "Real Estate.") 

I'll admit the first chapter had me wondering just what was going on here. It starts with Levy crying on escalators in train stations, which leads to a solo getaway trip to Majorca, where Levy encounters Maria, the single, childless proprietor of the hotel she's staying at, remembers a 1988 trip to Poland, and winds up chatting in a bar with a Chinese shopkeeper acquaintance.  

But when I got into chapter 2 -- in which the author recounts memories of her childhood in South Africa, during the 1960s (i.e., the era of apartheid), it got much more interesting -- and I started seeing certain themes being repeated and developed, as Levy discovers her voice, as a young woman and as a writer.  

The writing throughout is absorbing, and the reason why I'm rounding up my 3.5 star rating on StoryGraph to 4 stars on Goodreads.   

ALI note:  I was under the impression that Levy was childless (not sure why?) -- but she mentions her son early on, followed by a fairly lengthy passage about the lives of mothers and motherhood generally.  

This was Book #8 read to date in 2024 (and Book #2 finished in March), bringing me to 18% of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 1 book behind schedule to meet my goal. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2024 tagged as "2024 books." 

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