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Things I Don't Want to Know

On Writing

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


A shimmering jewel of a book about writing from two-time Booker Prize finalist Deborah Levy, to publish alongside her new work of nonfiction, The Cost of Living.

Blending personal history, gender politics, philosophy, and literary theory into a luminescent treatise on writing, love, and loss, Things I Don't Want to Know is Deborah Levy's witty response to George Orwell's influential essay "Why I Write." Orwell identified four reasons he was driven to hammer at his typewriter--political purpose, historical impulse, sheer egoism, and aesthetic enthusiasm--and Levy's newest work riffs on these same commitments from a female writer's perspective.

As she struggles to balance womanhood, motherhood, and her writing career, Levy identifies some of the real-life experiences that have shaped her novels, including her family's emigration from South Africa in the era of apartheid; her teenage years in the UK where she played at being a writer in the company of builders and bus drivers in cheap diners; and her theater-writing days touring Poland in the midst of Eastern Europe's economic crisis, where she observed how a soldier tenderly kissed the women in his life goodbye.

Spanning continents (Africa and Europe) and decades (we meet the writer at seven, fifteen, and fifty), Things I Don't Want to Know brings the reader into a writer's heart.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 17, 2014 – Author of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted Swimming Home offers a slim, nuanced autobiography that addresses Orwell's timeless question of "Why I Write" from a woman's perspective. Levy begins with a trip to Majorca on which she mysteriously packs one of her old notebooks, labeled "POLAND 1988", not knowing why she has brought it with her. The incident prompts Levy to recall how she used Polish menus from the notebook in her acclaimed novel, "in which the cabin crew on LOT airlines had morphed into nurses from Odessa." The memoir's project becomes evident in Levy's precise methods of showing how unrelated incidents from her life and experience become fodder, through the subconscious mind's unknowable alchemy, for her fiction. The precise, visceral scenes soon give way to a more philosophical tone as Levy sets about to deconstruct and analyze what it means to be a woman writer, quoting such luminaries as Adrienne Rich and Marguerite Duras. Her South African childhood, her father's abduction, and the family's later expatriation to England form the remainder of the slender memoir's narrative, and she continues to link lived experience to her development and process as a writer. Particularly fond of greasy spoon restaurants in England, she begins to write as a teenager inside their "steamed up windows and haze of cigarette smoke," a "sense of urgency accelerated." At these junctures, in which Levy explores the consciousness and central questions of a writer ("I was convinced there was another sort of life waiting for me"), this dreamlike book of ideas and memories displays its greatest strengths.
Things I Don't Want to Know
View in iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jun 10, 2014
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Seller: INscribe Digital
  • Print Length: 128 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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