Things I Don't Want to KnowThings I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“As I bit into the sweet orange flesh of the apricot , I found myself thinking about some of the women, the mothers who had waited with me in the school playground while we collected our children.  Now that we were mothers we were all shadows of our former selves, chased by the women we used to be before we had children.  We didn’t really know what to do with her, this fierce, independent young woman who followed us about, shouting and pointing the finger while we wheeled our buggies in the English rain.  We tried to answer her back but we did not have the language to explain that we were not women who had merely ‘acquired’ some children – we had metamorphosed (new heavy bodies, milk in our breasts, hormonally programmed to run to our babies when they cried) in to someone we did not entirely understand.”

First of all let me say that I have read Deborah Levy before so I knew what I was getting into with this book.  Please do not make the mistake of thinking that this short book will be a quick easy read that you can finish and forget in an afternoon.  Deborah Levy writes with a style that is thick and heavy.  The words have weight, and the sentences have meaning.  The story told here is simple enough, but the meaning is deep enough to merit pauses between pages to process everything.  If you allow your mind to wander while skimming along you will rapidly find yourself in another country discussing unrelated items to the last thing you remember and you will have to backtrack and re-read pages to find yourself again.

This book has an added bonus of being written in response to Orwell’s Why I Write which gives the reasons, Political Purpose, Historical Impulse, Sheer Egoism, and Aesthetic Enthusiasm.  Deborah responds to each of these ideas, sharing her own personal history and viewpoint.  Parts of the story move so quickly that I almost felt as if I were reading a fiction story. I definitely recommend this for the serious reader, this isn’t something I would recommend for vacation.