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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Hot Milk - Deborah Levy

“The tide was coming in with all the medusas floating in its turbulence. The tendrils of the jellyfish in limbo, like something cut loose, a placenta, a parachute, a refugee severed from its place of origin”
The narrator of this novel is 25 year old Sofia Papastergiadis, the daughter of an English mother and a
Greek father. Her parents are long divorced. Sofia has a degree in anthropology but works as a barista and sleeps in a storage room in the shop. She has spent most of her life catering to her mother, Rose, who suffers from an undiagnosed illness that has left her confined to a wheelchair. When Rose remortgages her flat in England to travel to a posh clinic in Spain in search of a cure Sofia goes with her. The clinic is run by the mysterious Dr. Gómez who may be a fraud. Rose is impossible to please and the beaches in this southern Spanish town are swarming with jellyfish and surrounded by factories. Sofia is floating through life much as the jellyfish (medusas in Spanish) float through the water. She drifts into relationships with a German seamstress and also with a young lifeguard who  treats her jellyfish stings. She takes a sidetrip to Greece to visit her father and his very young wife and infant daughter in hopes of rekindling a stone cold relationship and/or obtaining some funding to finish her doctoral degree. The visit is disappointing and unsuccessful on both fronts.
The style of the book is dreamlike with a range of dislocated characters and lots of (sometimes overwrought) symbolism. This is the third of Levy's books that I've read and I enjoyed it very much.

Previously by Levy Swimming Home and Black Vodka

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