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The Cost of Living (2018)

by Deborah Levy

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3071369,870 (3.96)6
To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman. The Cost of Living explores the subtle erasure of women's names, spaces, and stories in the modern everyday. In this "living autobiography" infused with warmth and humor, Deborah Levy critiques the roles that society assigns to us and reflects on the politics of breaking with the usual gendered rituals. What does it cost a woman to unsettle old boundaries and collapse the social hierarchies that make her a minor character in a world not arranged to her advantage? Levy draws on her own experience of attempting to live with pleasure, value, and meaning-the making of a new kind of family home, the challenges of her mother's death-and those of women she meets in everyday life, from a young female traveler reading in a bar who suppresses her own words while she deflects an older man's advances, to a particularly brilliant student, to a kindly and ruthless octogenarian bookseller who offers the author a place to write at a difficult time in her life. The Cost of Living is urgent, essential reading, a crystalline manifesto for turbulent times.… (more)
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    Kudos by Rachel Cusk (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Leben einer Schriftstellerin mit Kindern nach einer Scheidung.
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» See also 6 mentions

English (10)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
At 50 Levy's marriage disintegrates and her mother dies. She begins to shape a home for her daughters, and is loaned a home for her writing self.

As ever she is exploring the lot of the unnamed women in the lives of others, especially men: wife, daughter, sister.. ( )
  Caroline_McElwee | Apr 15, 2022 |
Exquisitely written memoir of finding new life after a marriage ends. ( )
  Carrie_Etter | Nov 28, 2020 |
A very raw, personal, take on a life after marriage, in a very feminist perspective. Very powerful, very engrossing, and each 'essay' or 'short story' led into the next. Definitely enlightening to men I think, and how we come off to women, in situations where we don't understand ourselves - and more importantly - how we don't understand women.

I did think it was interesting, and most likely purposeful, how she mentions that men don't give names to their wives. This changes for the first (and only time) when Nadia enters her life. But what I think is interesting about this; is how she never once lists a male's name in this book. A few nicknames given, but "the man who cried at the funeral" , "my best male friend", etc. ( )
  BenKline | Jul 1, 2020 |
Very good, but not quite as brilliant as the first in the series, Things I Don't Want to Know. I'll read the third when it comes out for sure, and her observations on gender roles and politics are as trenchant and well-written as ever. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
Everything was calm. The sun was shining. I was swimming in the deep. And then, when I surfaced 20 years later, I discovered there was a storm, a whirlpool, a blasting gale lifting the waves over my head.
At first I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to the boat and then I realised I didn’t want to make it back to the boat. Chaos is supposed to be what we most fear but I have come to believe it might be what we most want. If we don’t believe in the future we are planning, the house we are mortgaged to, the person who sleeps by our side, it is possible that a tempest (long lurking in the clouds) might bring us closer to how we want to be in the world.
Life falls apart. We try to get a grip and hold it together. And then we realise we don’t want to hold it together. ( )
  damngoodsoffie | Feb 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Man ist immer irrealer als die anderen. Marguerite Duras, Das tägliche Leben
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Ein Happy-End hängt ganz davon ab, wo wir die Geschichte enden lassen, meinte Orson Welles.
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To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman. The Cost of Living explores the subtle erasure of women's names, spaces, and stories in the modern everyday. In this "living autobiography" infused with warmth and humor, Deborah Levy critiques the roles that society assigns to us and reflects on the politics of breaking with the usual gendered rituals. What does it cost a woman to unsettle old boundaries and collapse the social hierarchies that make her a minor character in a world not arranged to her advantage? Levy draws on her own experience of attempting to live with pleasure, value, and meaning-the making of a new kind of family home, the challenges of her mother's death-and those of women she meets in everyday life, from a young female traveler reading in a bar who suppresses her own words while she deflects an older man's advances, to a particularly brilliant student, to a kindly and ruthless octogenarian bookseller who offers the author a place to write at a difficult time in her life. The Cost of Living is urgent, essential reading, a crystalline manifesto for turbulent times.

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