Review:

Hot Milk - Deborah Levy

“Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach. It was tucked under my arm and slid out of its black rubber sheath (designed like an envelope), landing screen side down. The digital page is now shattered but at least it still works. My laptop has all my life in it and knows more about me than anyone else.

 

So what I am saying is that if it is broken, so am I.”

 

Got to 21%, then skim read to the end.

 

Hot Milk is another selection from this year’s Booker long list. As I tried to get into the story, it struck me that Hot Milk reminded me of John Fowles’ The Magus. Too much.

 

Hot Milk seems to equal The Magus in pretentiousness – the sort of writing that is littered with profound statements and mentions of classical characters that seem impressive but don’t really carry much meaning.

 

“As he talked I could see his soft, pink lips pulsing like a medusa in the middle of his beard. He handed me a pencil stub and asked me to please fill in the form:

 

Name: Sofia Papastergiadis

Age: 25

Country of origin: UK

Occupation:

 

The jellyfish don’t care about my occupation, so what is the point? It is a sore point, more painful than my sting and more of a problem than my surname which no one can say or spell.”

 

The overall story – a daughter trying to care for her mother while she undergoes treatment for a mysterious illness in Spain – is intriguing but the mystery doesn’t hold up.

 

In a way, it is interesting that Hot Milk and Eileen were both on the Booker long list this year because they strike some very similar chords in that the “mysterious” element of the book is created by the characters and their situation.

[spoiler]

Both seem to be self-deprecating young women who are being manipulated by the people around them, most of all their parents.  

[/spoiler]

So, it did make me wonder whether there was a particular trend this year or whether it just is that my current reading tastes are geared toward this kind of story (which is probably more likely).

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