The Musings of a Boho Girl

bōˈhēmēən (noun) 1. a free spirit ; 2. a writer; 3. an explorer of the Avant-Garde.

Tag: reading

Book Review: Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living

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This is my first post of the year and I thought it would be right to review a compelling read. Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living is the second installment of the author’s living memoir, but it’s also a moving journey of transformation. Levy’s life drastically changes and she must find a way to navigate those choices while writing. The Cost of Living is memorable as it reveals Levy’s adventurous spirit and I was drawn to her story. She buys an e-bike and uses her friend’s shed as a writing space. The Cost of Living explores themes of loss, identity, and mourning with wit and strength.

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Five Quotes from Ali Smith’s Hotel World

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‘Remember you must live.
Remember you most love.
Remainder you mist leaf.’

I ended up attending a book club again. Maybe it was the cake or the opportunity to discuss Ali Smith’s Hotel World that led me to the basement of an independent bookshop, but there I was holding my copy of Hotel World and eyeing a Whole Foods cake. This novel is one of my favourites, Hotel World is brilliant: five sections about five women, one of whom is dead, and it’s set at the same global hotel branch. Smith skillfully traces the characters’ paths and where they intersect. The final section is a stream-of-consciousness from Clare (Sara Wilby’s younger sister) which is reminiscent of Woolf or Joyce. Here are five quotes from Hotel World:

‘Else wonders where her head would go, if she could take it off and hold it in her hands and then fling it up and set it flying, leaving her chest and her stomach and her legs and her waving-goodbye arms, her head soaring by itself up past the huddles of freezing starlings. The sky would open. The roof of it would come off. She would be so careful up there. She would avoid aeroplanes.’ 67
‘It is much easier to picture her from the photographs in the papers and TV than to try to remember. The photographs in the papers and on TV seem to have wiped Lise’s memory of the real Sara Wilby even cleaner.’ 110

‘Time is notoriously deceptive. Everybody knows this (though it is one of the easier things to forget).’ 103

‘At the bottom of the shaft, colourless in the dark, there was a shoe and a crumpled uniform, both still warm, both going cold. There were three or four coins, maybe more. There was a broken clock. Its plastic shell was shattered and its face was in bits.’ 154

‘& since I will always know off by heart I will not forget the sound of you breathing in the dark & since there was the night when I was eleven when they played the old song about the long and winding road on the radio & for some reason I don’t know why it made me frightened that the earth was full of dead people even the earth round the flowers outside in the garden though I didn’t say anything I was in bed you were in the other bed you said what’s wrong are you scared you knew I was without me having to say anything’ 219

You can find Hotel World here.

Lydia Davis’s Can’t and Won’t

Can’t and Won’t
by Lydia Davis
Hamish Hamilton, 289 pp.

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I picked up Lydia Davis’s collection of short stories after reading her Paris Review interview. My curiosity had grown after reading her novel, The End of the Story; she wrote the story in fragments and the structure fascinated me. I became immersed in Lydia Davis’s stories, the moments she describes possess a strange beauty. There are stories about dreams, some are just one sentence, and others are described as extracts from Flaubert’s correspondence. It’s one of the most unique collections I’ve read.

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Re-reading David Foster Wallace

I like it when somebody gets excited about something. – Holden, The Catcher in the Rye

When I was fifteen I borrowed Infinite Jest from my local library. I was attracted to mammoth sized books. The librarian suggested I borrow a Sweet Valley High book, it was the worst thing she could have said to a teenager. She questioned my maturity. Now I insisted on the David Foster Wallace book. The librarian held onto the book and my card; I could see her contemplating her next move. She studied my face; yes, I was the girl, who at eleven, insisted the head librarian order The Handmaid’s Tale. Although they forced my mother to check out the book for me, I won that battle. So she handed over Infinite Jest and I left the library.

For five months, there was nothing else. I read David Foster Wallace attentively even while exhausted. When it was over, I didn’t know what to feel, but I had acquired a deep appreciation for footnotes, without them it would have been impossible to understand the drugs described in his book. I knew what I read was special. Read the rest of this entry »