Real Estate Space Requirements – Chicago Review of Books

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“Much of the literature, like life, is about how to have less and how to have more,” says Deborah Levy in her book. Real estate, the third volume of her “living autobiography” of her life as a writer and a woman. In this latest chronicle, Levy asks what it might mean to have more when she turns 60 and transitions to an independent life, no longer called upon to feed her mother. The first volume is short and brilliant The things I don’t want to know she explored the hidden connections between the painful upheavals of her childhood in South Africa with apartheid, her beginnings as a writer, and the first cracks in her marriage, and in her second, Cost of living, she gives up her attempts to build a new life with her daughters in a ramshackle London tenement, while her mother’s death sounds grim.

V Real estateLevy changed into more comfortable clothes and loosened her curls: the text became looser, her tone was sharper, the incidents were more anecdotal than transformative. Easier to read, Levy’s signature flamboyant take on Freudian interpretation remains as it fills everyday objects – a small banana tree unfolding in a wet bathroom, or royal turmeric silk sheets – with an almost totemic meaning and cuts through “everything around.” private magic that we invent to keep ourselves out of danger. “

Name, Real estate, is partly a nod to Wolfe and her call for women to claim exclusively their own space. Levy picks up where Wolfe left off, searches for the “female character” she sees missing on the page and on screen, and tries to reach out to various movie directors. She’s tired of the story of a woman struggling to define herself outside of the men in her life (explored by writers such as Beauvoir and Hardwicke), and Austin’s secure prospect of marriage is no longer the solution. She is looking for a new story about a woman over 50, after the end of a heterosexual family life, a character who does not simply serve to “hold back the more interesting desires of others … or be wise and dumb.” And no “capricious eccentrics”. This is not the story of a woman feeding pigeons with one painted eyebrow floating around her hair.

As with other volumes, Levy explores the interweaving of writing and life. She’s struggling with her own real estate drive, and she knows that the ‘missing character’ is herself as well, in a role not yet written: “I started to wonder that I and all women were missing their own desires and all the rewrites women … will own in their portfolio of property at the end of our lives. … And indeed, if I were to write the script from start to finish, what would I like my female characters to appreciate, own, discard and inherit? ”

Real estate is also a metaphor for a space that women have not owned in all these long centuries: “Never again did I want to sit at a table with heterosexual couples and feel that women were occupying this space. When this happens, homeowners become their male partners and women become their tenants. ” Writing life, first as a playwright and then as a writer, did not yield to the bourgeois comforts of some of her contemporaries. Having seized his own room for the art of writing and gaining wider recognition later in his career, Levy now seeks a home for the art of living, claims to power and respect, where power is defined as being seen and heard.

The title is also an ironic commentary on the itinerant life. Her desire to take root is only in her imagination. She builds her dream house with a pomegranate tree and an egg-shaped wood-burning stove in her imagination, her “unreal real estate”, while her real life takes her from London to New York, to Mumbai, to Paris and to Hydra, no the place is truly home, but full of interesting people, attractions and entertainment. Memoirs are a carefully balanced act of concealment and disclosure. Levy uses other characters she encounters to change her point of view. For example, she is attracted to others at the end of a long relationship or life between two worlds, and she shares an excerpt from their stories. Her unnamed “male best friend” also acts as a provocateur, questioning her lifestyle and insisting that she needs a companion. Levy does not directly address his advice, but the various creeps she encounters during her travels (see the Dashing Frenchman who calls his penis his “jaguar” on his first coffee trip) indirectly defend her decision to stay with her. own.

“Of all the arts, the art of living is probably the most important,” she says. In this sense, the book offers a lesson by example, where the art of living involves developing friendships and recognizing what is within reach: “pepper emerald olive oil,” swimming in the Aegean, guava salted ice cream and chili flakes. The most satisfactory definition of “real estate” means offering a place for a large family of friends and their children. “The extended family, not the nuclear family, which at this stage in my life,” says Levy, “seemed to be a happier way of life.”

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Real estate
Deborah Levy
Bloomsbury Publishing
Published on August 24, 2021

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