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review 2016-12-13 04:57
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Hot Milk - Deborah Levy

I'm going to start off by saying I did not like this book and that I did not finish reading it. If you are looking for a review for the whole book, this is not it. This is just me talking about why I decided to stop reading this book.

 

The writing didn't pull me in and I felt the characters were flat. And towards the beginning of the book, I just couldn't stomach how the main character was flat out racist, sexist, and judgmental. There's a part where she is commenting how the owner of a diving-school kept yelling at his Mexican workers that they were doing a horrible job and they couldn't say anything about it because they're "illegal." ...but of course they had to be Mexican and illegal. Mexicans in Spain are obviously there illegally... I'm just getting really sick and tired of seeing Mexicans being treated as filth because of that "illegal citizens" mentality.

 

Another thing that upset me was when Sofia, main character, showed how bloody sexist and judgmental she is. Shortly after the racist portion, she goes into a bathroom and notices the person in the next stall has men shoes. To which she overreacts to the highest degree! She runs to the owner of the pub, tells him there's a man in the next stall trying to see up her skirt, and that she thinks he has a knife. Mind you, all she saw was a person wearing men's shoes! She had no idea whether it really was a man in the women's bathroom nor did she know if he really had a knife or not. Turns out she was completely wrong! It was a woman and she did not have a knife. It just made me upset to see her react in such a manner. Trying to get someone in trouble without knowing the full details. And I know she might just be really stressed out with how her mother has been treating her, but I don't think that gives her the right to be so outright judgmental without knowing the full details.

 

After that, I had to put the book down. I just couldn't bring myself to read the rest of it. I am sick and tired of reading books that treat people like trash without reason. Just done with it. It's just not something I want to read. If you think that this book is something you want to try out then give it a shot. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't. Personally, I can't read things like this anymore. It makes me upset and I want to be able to enjoy what I read.

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review 2016-10-20 18:34
Review: Hot Milk
Hot Milk - Deborah Levy

Hot Milk is not a perfect novel, by any means, but it can be quite enjoyable. It's disjointed and quirky, but these are features that can be endearing for some readers. Others may be put off by it. This is the first book I have read by Deborah Levy, so I'm not sure if this dream-like prose is indicative of her style, but after finishing Hot Milk I was immediately ready for more.

There's a very ethereal quality that runs throughout the novel, but it's all quite subtle. Some readers will likely feel “things are off,” but not necessarily be able to put words to any of it. In an early scene, for instance, the protagonist and her mother are in a doctor's office. The doctor's front teeth are made of gold. There's a stuffed monkey in a glass case. The mother begins to cough. The doctor coughs. She moves her leg and the doctor moves his. After a strange exchange, the doctor randomly announces, “I think you are going to sneeze soon.” None of it is Twin Peaks Red-Room kind-of-crazy, but it's all so peculiar. The novel is filled with these moments and also a dialogue that is unnatural. It's intriguing, but what's the point?

Levy seems to be addressing several different themes in Hot Milk, but doesn't explain them. Perhaps she expects her readers to be smarter than they are. Or perhaps she doesn't feel the need for the answers to be obvious. Though there is strong emphasis on gender confusion, the primary subject is memory. This likely explain the dream-like quality of the novel. One character states, “memory is a bomb.” At another point, the protagonist ruminates on “the way imagination and reality tumble together and mess things up.” Simple events like observing that her father was partial to dill is followed by a reflection that this observation “will become a memory.” There is so much emphasis put on imagination and dreams, matched with the surreal plot, and one may assume that this story isn't what it seems to be. But then what is it? That answer is never obvious.

I enjoyed the unknown. I respected the author's right to tell her story in a slightly off-kilter manner. Other readers won't be so forgiving and so Hot Milk becomes the sort of novel that some will love, some will hate, and many will just shake their heads at and say, “huh?”

Levy is a favorite for the Man Booker Prize and for good reason. Not only has she written a wonderful novel, but she's the most accomplished of the nominees. The author of seven novels, several collections, a work of non-fiction, and many plays, Levy has won numerous awards and was previously shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2012. If the Man Booker was judged by the same standards as the Academy Awards, Levy would be a shoo-in. Fortunately, the Man Booker Prize judges do not have a history of awarding the most culturally significant author or the one who was slighted the last time; they tend to award the prize to the most deserving book. And while Hot Milk is a fine novel, I'm not sure it has the universality and depth necessary to take home the prize. It's certainly possible, and I'd say its odds are much higher than the other two nominees I have so far read—Eileen and The Sellout—but in a world that seems to be simultaneously on the brink of destruction and enlightenment, the winner needs to offer something more. So far, Hot Milk is my favorite to take the prize, but there is still half the field of contenders to consider.

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url 2016-09-14 12:14
Man booker prize short list
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (3-Mar-2015) Hardcover - Paul Beatty
Hot Milk - Deborah Levy
His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet
Eileen: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh (2015-08-18) - Ottessa Moshfegh
All That Man Is: A Novel - David Szalay
Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien

Read them. Rthe list is out.

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review 2016-09-03 12:34
Hot Milk
Hot Milk - Deborah Levy

"Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach. It was tucked under my arm and slid out of its black rubber sheath (designed like an envelope), landing screen side down. The digital page is now shattered but at least it still works. My laptop has all my life in it and knows more about me than anyone else.

 

So what I am saying is that if it is broken, so am I."

 

Got to 21%, then skim read to the end.

 

Hot Milk is another selection from this year's Booker long list. As I tried to get into the story, it struck me that Hot Milk reminded me of John Fowles' The Magus. Too much.

 

Hot Milk seems to equal The Magus in pretentiousness - the sort of writing that is littered with profound statements and mentions of classical characters that seem impressive but don't really carry much meaning.

 

"As he talked I could see his soft, pink lips pulsing like a medusa in the middle of his beard. He handed me a pencil stub and asked me to please fill in the form:

 

Name: Sofia Papastergiadis

Age: 25

Country of origin: UK

Occupation:

 

The jellyfish don't care about my occupation, so what is the point? It is a sore point, more painful than my sting and more of a problem than my surname which no one can say or spell."

 

The overall story - a daughter trying to care for her mother while she undergoes treatment for a mysterious illness in Spain - is intriguing but the mystery doesn't hold up.

 

In a way, it is interesting that Hot Milk and Eileen were both on the Booker long list this year because they strike some very similar chords in that the "mysterious" element of the book is created by the characters and their situation.

Both seem to be self-deprecating young women who are being manipulated by the people around them, most of all their parents.  

(spoiler show)

So, it did make me wonder whether there was a particular trend this year or whether it just is that my current reading tastes are geared toward this kind of story (which is probably more likely).

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text 2016-07-31 14:09
2016 Booker Longlist
Serious Sweet - A.L. Kennedy
Hot Milk - Deborah Levy
Eileen: A Novel - Ottessa Moshfegh

After some wonderful adventuring yesterday (sorry, no pics), I have finally had some time on this lazy Sunday to digest the Booker Longlist that was announced last week. If I have learned anything from the previous Booker winners, it's that I prefer other titles on the Long- and Shortlist, and am generally disappointed with the professionals' final choice.

 

There are a few titles this year that have sparked my interest and I hope to get them from the library soon.

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