‘Real Estate,’ by Deborah Levy book review

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In London, her flat (“in the crumbling apartment block”) is full of possessions, such as a banana tree her daughter jokingly refers to as her third child. In Paris on a fellowship, she stays in an emptier apartment, but finds herself “collecting things for a parallel life, or a life not yet lived, a life that was waiting to be made. In a way, these objects resembled the early drafts of a novel.” She rents a house for a summer on a Greek island, spending time with her adult daughters and her philandering best male friend (who, in an interesting reversal of most books, is never given a name, while the women in his life are). The way in which Levy associates one thought with the next has a hypnotic but clarifying effect. After seeing sand pour out of a hole in the wall of her rental, she thinks about the house falling apart as she goes for a swim. “And what about ghost crabs, which burrow holes into sand to build their home? When the tides erase…

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