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madbkwm

madbkwm

Swimming Home - Deborah Levy, Tom McCarthy I can appreciate why this book would appeal to others, but it really just wasn't my cup of tea. The writing is poetic and the hallucinations and descriptions of mental instability are artful. I appreciate and understand that this novel is a bit like a Suzanne Vega song. It resonates dreams and poetry rather than reality.

However, it is not really presented as a fantastical novel. Instead, it comes off to this reader anyway, as an attempt at a realistic statement about depression and privilege. It is a very dreamlike portrayal of some heavy stuff and it is so unrealistic in its representation that I was just annoyed with the disconnect. For example, the whole idea that Kitty appears in the pool AND THEY LET HER STAY is not believable on any level with any group of people.

Also, Levy kept belaboring the point that they were not good hosts (not offering linen or taking care of Kitty, for example), BUT THEY ARE NOT THE HOSTS. First, she is an imposition; second, they are not in their own home but in a rented villa (they might simply not have brought enough extra bed linens or hangers to be able to share). Simultaneously after having been there oh, I don't know 36 hours??, Nina is so comfortable with Kitty that they are sleeping in each other's arms and Kitty has made a "small, hot, chaotic world" in her little room.

Finally, Kitty strolls around naked all the time and NO ONE ever tells her to put on some clothes, they just either avert their eyes or stare at her. I guess that is part of the whole "Jezebel not real person" thing that Kitty has going (as a metaphor for Joe's own depression and symbol of his muse or psychosis...certainly Nina confuses the two of them), but really it was too far fetched for me to grasp.

That said, there were some great off-hand comments and beautiful prose:
"couples were always keen to return to the task of trying to destroy their lifelong partners while pretending to have their best interests at heart."
"She wished she could be more like him and fool around and play with whatever the day brought in."
"The new motto would have to take into account the idea that knowledge was sometimes hard to live with and once the clever young girls of Cardiff had a taste for it they would never by able to put the genie back in the bottle."

Overall it is short and therefore worth the time, but not really saying much beyond the trite "depression is bad and it affects you every day of your life." I wasn't impressed.