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Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
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Hot Milk (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Deborah Levy

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7783625,319 (3.54)117
"I have been sleuthing my mother's symptoms for as long as I can remember. If I see myself as an unwilling detective with a desire for justice, is her illness an unsolved crime? If so, who is the villain and who is the victim? Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant--their very last chance--in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia's mother's illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sophia's role as detective--tracking her mother's symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain--deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community. Hot Milk is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world"--… (more)
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Title:Hot Milk
Authors:Deborah Levy
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Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (2016)

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» See also 117 mentions

English (35)  Dutch (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I love Levy's living autobiography, of which three installments have been published: [Things I Don't Want to Know], [The Cost of Living], and [Real Estate]. The first one started out as a response to George Orwell's essay [Why I Write]. Anyway, she kept going, and each installment is worth the read. She is a fascinating person, so very different from myself, and I like the way she thinks about things. Reading this one, I noted she puts a lot of herself into her this book. I liked it, but I can see why it wouldn't work for everyone. It's hard to describe this one - like a screwball comedy but without the comedy. The setting is Spain, and I do feel like I have been to the beaches of Spain, so she does a good job with establishing sense of place. I also thought she did an excellent job of conveying the friction laden landscape of an adult mother/daughter relationship where the daughter is caring for her mother, and the mother is not making it easy. ( )
  Crazymamie | Jan 8, 2023 |
"'Sofia is a waitress, for the time being,' my father said in Greek.

I am other things, too.
I have a first-class degree and a master's.
I am pulsating with shifting sexualities.
I am sex on tanned legs in suede platform sandals.
I am urban and educated and currently godless.
"

29. Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
published: 2016
format: 218-page paperback
acquired: December
read: Jun 25-29
time reading: 6:01, 1.7 mpp
rating: 4 (maybe 4+ ??)
locations: Almeriá, Spain & Athens, with memories of London and Yorkshire.
about the author: British novelist born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1959.

Among the blurbs in the front of my paperback is this perfect one from [[Lionel Shriver]]: "Deborah Levy conveys an atmosphere of out-of-kilter surreality without ever violating the rules of realism."

This book is hyper that, that "out-of-kilter surreality". So much so that, not quite in the mood for constant thought-provoking lines, each word needing attention and warping the meaning, I had to tell myself to have a little patience. And that worked. If thoughtful "out-of-kilter surreality" is a thing, or is it negative capability(?), this book does it masterfully and joyfully.

Sophie, an anthropologist who works in a London coffee shop, is far away from that, showered by the sun in Almería, southern Spain. She is there with her needy single Yorkshire mother, who has mysterious numb feet, to seek treatment with a questionable specialist. The atmosphere is everything here - the sun, the parched landscape, Medusa jellyfish, many playful references to Greek mythology, a newfound experimental inhibition...and the sense that nothing is reliable here. And the carefully crafted lines and odd-associations just keep coming. Combined, it‘s all one step removed, dreamy, uncertain, and, yes, thought-provoking. This is my second terrific book by Levy. I really like how that atmosphere here has hung around beyond the few days it took to read.

2021
https://www.librarything.com/topic/330945#7547135 ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Jul 4, 2021 |
Odd book. I didn't really enjoy it but I have a feeling that this book will haunt me for a while. Full of unlikable characters and a hypochondriac mother with functional disorder who I just want to slap. ( )
  CharlotteBurt | Feb 1, 2021 |
This was everything I didn't know that I needed.
Pretty much perfect in every way. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Not sure I like this book. I felt the monster metaphor was overdone, and I just wanted to shake the characters to stop and get a life. ( )
  WiebkeK | Jan 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
The reader becomes as unsettled as Sofia through Levy's provocative, seemingly haphazard mixing up of tenses, occasional blurring of points of view; grammar necessarily shatters when Rose and Sofia gaze newly at each other, try to break old patterns of misunderstanding, to speak truthfully. The difficult, ambivalent, precious mother-daughter relationship forms the core of this beautiful, clever novel.
 
Hot Milk is a powerful novel of the interior life, which Levy creates with a vividness that recalls Virginia Woolf. The sense of Sofia’s life with her mother (or against her mother) is built through an accumulation of detail, a constellation of symbols and narrative bursts. But like a medusa, this novel has a transfixing gaze and a terrible sting that burns long after the final page is turned.
 

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Deborah Levyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Åsefeldt, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"I have been sleuthing my mother's symptoms for as long as I can remember. If I see myself as an unwilling detective with a desire for justice, is her illness an unsolved crime? If so, who is the villain and who is the victim? Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant--their very last chance--in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia's mother's illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sophia's role as detective--tracking her mother's symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain--deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community. Hot Milk is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world"--

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