Epub Deborah Levy ß ß Things I Don't Want to Know On Writing PDF/EPUB ò

'Perhaps when Orwell described sheer egoism as a necessary uality for a writer he was not thinking about the sheer egoism of a female writer Even the most arrogant female writer has to work over time to build an ego that is robust enough to get her through January never mind all the way to December' Deborah Levy


10 thoughts on “Things I Don't Want to Know On Writing

  1. says:

    Levy is a wonderful writer this short slice of a memoir has 4 uick sections two glimpses at her fractured life as she's writing it sandwiching two moving seuences most notably the story of Levy's father's jailing in South Africa when she was a young girl All along the thru line is clear what makes someone want to write and how do they keep going in the face of adversity? A bit A Room of One's Own a bit The Argonauts in its excellent uotation of feminist theory challenging and charming at once


  2. says:

    Marketed as a feminist response to Orwell’s “Why I Write” Things I Don’t Want to Know tracks how a soft spoken girl became a prolific writer Across four fast moving sections novelist Deborah Levy recounts her childhood spent in South Africa at the height of apartheid with her father incarcerated as a political prisoner as well as her tumultuous adolescence in England with few friends to rely on In understated prose Levy considers the many challenges she faced in finding her voice as a woman writer while also grappling with a wide array of other themes from modern motherhood and national identity to the impact of turbulent politics on everyday life As an impressionistic long essay on oppression parenthood and writing the work’s highly affecting if a bit aimless


  3. says:

    This exuisite little book is dangerous to read on public transport because you will miss your stop It is also dangerous to read in bed because it will not send you to sleep I must also warn the potential reader that she will grieve being without this book soon after starting on it because it is too shortHaving said that the book is concentrated literary goodness And expands my knowledge and wisdom by a magical transference I will never again see Barby dolls budgerigars soft toys door handles or for that matter peoples obsession with kitty movies on Youtube in the same light again Its refraction of the child’s intellect gives me respect for the naughtiness of children Its descriptions of black people in South Africa combines human respect empathy and profound outrage in simple phrases and descriptions Descriptions like beautiful nails that deserve to be firmly hammered inAn argument for artists research that is intuitive probing and playing a long game This is a modern classic of self reflexive cross genre writing Read it Be itMore lugubrious writings by Stefan Szczelkun


  4. says:

    I was frustrated by Political Purpose the opening chapter of Deborah Levy’s four part memoir—a work which some regard as “a feminist response to Orwell’s ‘Why I Write’” I found it hard going pretentious and opaue Could you just get to the point I wondered Well Levy does eventually manage to do that—sort of One spring she writes “life was very hard” and its difficulty was often most apparent to her when she was standing on an ascending escalator Something about being moved passively upwards would cause her to cry almost to the point of sobbing A good part of her trouble was related to her having been submerged in the role of mother for years Motherhood is a ualitatively different experience from fatherhood she writes and it is not uncommon for women to cancel their own desires According to Marguerite Duras whom Levy uotes being a mother “means that a woman gives her body over to her child her children they devour her hit her sleep on her” Women become “shadows of their former selves” metamorphosing into hormonally programmed creatures whose breast milk flows at their babies’ cries Such women become people who no longer understand themselvesIn an effort to come to terms with what was happening inside Levy removed herself from the domestic scene traveling to an out of the way pensione in Palma Majorca a place where she’d found solace in the past In the humble little hotel run by Maria a woman who’d managed to avoid the traditional roles of wife and mother Levy could rest reflect and take stockIn the second strongest and richest section of her memoir Historical Impulse Levy looks back on her South African childhood She identifies an early awareness of the deep ineuities within that society and her discovery of the power of the written word to bring to the surface the things she might not want to know In 1964 when Levy was five years old her father was picked up one night by the special branch of the security police Both of Levy’s parents were members of the African National Congress the banned political organization that was fighting for eual human rights for Africans Coloureds and Indians For the five years her father was incarcerated Levy was expected to be brave Knowing she was not to mention his whereabouts she made up stories about his being in England Mostly though she did not talk It was an effort to get any words out; the volume of her voice had somehow been turned way down At school her “nonsense” not speaking audibly and her refusal to fill her notebook pages as directed inflamed her Afrikaner teacher who evidently perceived the child’s acts as a kind of political resistance The woman sent the girl to the head master’s office where she was slapped ostensibly for her failure to comply but actually for being the Jewish daughter of a political prisoner a man who dared to challenge the racist status uoLevy writes a compelling account of subseuently being sent to Durban to stay with her godmother Dory and her family where the young girl’s understanding of the society into which she had been born would only grow In Durban the now seven or eight year old Deborah was befriended by Dory’s spirited young adult daughter Melissa not only encouraged the child to speak up but the young woman also defied racist policies by having an Indian boyfriend Not surprisingly given her father’s incarceration Levy became preoccupied with freeing her godmother’s caged budgie At this time too her father wrote to her from prison encouraging her to say her thoughts out loud not just in her head This was the point at which Levy discovered that her real voice was most likely to emerge through writing The experiences that troubled her—the things she really didn’t want to know—would come out with biro and paperThere are some other striking details provided in this section of the memoir As a child who was reuired to be stoical in the face of hardship Deborah saw in her plastic Barbie doll a kind of model for the way a girl should be “Untouched by anything horrible that happened in the world” Barbie was calm pretty and plastic Levy wished that she too could be plastic with painted on blue eyes “that held no secrets”From early childhood Levy was well aware of the racism of the society into which she’d been born She had heard all about the Sharpeville Massacre that happened a year after her birth She was also an early reader and had no trouble decoding the signs restricting parks and beaches to whites She loved the family’s Zulu servant “Maria” Zama and was sensitive as to the toll that the political situation had taken on the woman Maria was separated from her family in the townships including her daughter Thandiwe “Doreen” who was the same age as Deborah All African house staff and their offspring were given easily pronounced English names further removing them from their African identities—from themselves Overall I found Things I Don’t Want to Know an uneven work The second chapter alone is worth the price of admission but I was less impressed by the other sections The third section focuses on Levy’s teenaged years when the family lived “in exile” in England By this time her parents had separated and Levy was indulging in writerly pretensions Occasionally humorous the chapter with its slapstick elements didn’t uite work for me As for the fourth and final chapter Levy returns to the Majorcan setting which she uses as a framing device The reader learns that Maria the hotel keeper also apparently unhappy with her lot—perhaps because of restrictions imposed by her brother who has part ownership of the hotel and controls the finances—is fleeing the place she has for years so lovingly tended Again as in the first chapter the prose is somewhat unfocused and a bit precious There are some strained metaphors including one involving a window opening like an orange If this is a memoir intended to communicate why Levy writes I don’t think it is entirely successful It feels incomplete the work of someone trying to find herself which perhaps is the point It is a book about being “on the run from the lies concealed in the language of politics from myths about our character and our purpose in life”Thank you to my Goodreads friend Mimi for making me aware of this book which I did enjoy in spite of a few reservations


  5. says:

    In his essay Why I write which I confess I have not read George Orwell identifies four motives for writing sheer egoism aesthetic enthusiasm historical impulse and political purpose Here in the first of a planned trilogy of autobiographical essaysmemoirs Deborah Levy takes those four motivations and responds to them via episodes from her own lifeThe book consists of four short essays each with the title of one of Orwell’s motivations In Political Purpose set in Majorca where Levy has gone for respite because she keeps crying on the way up escalators we read about the suburb of femininity and about motherhood but we also learn about Levy’s earlier meeting with a Polish director who advises one of her students that to speak up is not about speaking louder it is about feeling entitled to voice a wish She doesn’t say it directly but it seems Levy’s political purpose is that women should be able to speak up like thisThen in Historical Impulse Levy heads back to early childhood and her time in South Africa during apartheid when her father was arrested for being a member of the ANC During this we meet Melissa who encourages Levy to speak up which Levy does by writing things down This is the historical impulse that propelled her towards writingIn Sheer Egoism we fast forward to Levy as a teenager now living in London She is still trying to write and she says that Writing made me feel wiser than I actually wasFinally we return to Majorca for Aesthetic Experience where a Chinese shopkeeper advises her that sometimes we have to know when to stop and where she meditates on Apollinaire’s line The window opens like an orange She wonders What do we do with the things we do not want to know? And her answer is she writes about themTo be honest I would read Levy’s shopping lists if she published them I am a huge fan of the way she writes and whilst this autobiographical non fiction might not have the same startling weirdness of some of her fiction it is still a beautiful book to read full of thought provoking comments and wonderful language


  6. says:

    There's something exuisite about Deborah Levy's non fiction


  7. says:

    Just incredible Review to follow


  8. says:

    I'm probably an awful listener because I never listen to recommendations about books never It's just something special I'm looking for in books and people don't always know what it is and I can't usually explain it A colleague of mine recommended Deborah Levy's novels again and again and I never considered reading them even for twenty seconds because I'm in a big non fiction period Then walking out of a book store last month I looked at my pile of five books by favourite writers and I picked that one up on a whim and half guiltily because I'd like to introduce new names to my shelves I've spent 5 days reading this skinny thing only because I wanted it to last longer I've had the great luck to read some remarkable books in 2016 and this is one of the best Its language is so delicious and deliriously simple It tells a story about apartheid confusion childhood desires and fears and the impulse to write I cried and I raged and I smiled and I recognized so much of it Read it


  9. says:

    Levy is one of my all time favorite fiction writers but I have never really been able to get into her non fiction or for that matter her plays which is odd since theatre is my field That said I really enjoyed this mash up of autobiography and 'justice' for writing which perhaps has in common with her fiction than I first supposed I could wax on about the specifics but I'm going to be lazy and just reference my friend Neil's review which says everything and I couldwould and much elouentlysuccinctly


  10. says:

    I have not read any of Levy's fiction but this short autobiographical book was a good introduction to her writing The section on her childhood in South Africa was especially good