The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography - Deborah Levy

Staff Pick

Levy is a mesmerizing writer who can operate at the nexus of several genres at once. This book is technically a personal memoir, but its compression and stunning sentences (“when love starts to crack the night comes in”) make it poetry, the carefully blocked scenes and impeccable dialogue heighten ordinary moments into drama, and Levy’s meditative considerations of her experiences, fears, and hopes give it the reflectiveness of philosophy—Levy often distills an idea or an emotion into a proposition, questions it, and proceeds to test it:  “to separate from love is to live a risk-free life. What’s the point of that sort of life?” This testing comes during the difficult period when Levy is adjusting to being divorced, which leads her to reassess and recalibrate her relationships as well as her image(s) of herself. With “old femininity” now “an exhausted phantom,” Levy wants to live the life of an ”unwritten major female character,” and she wants to write that character herself. This is also the time when she was working on Hot Milk, and she gives a wonderful glimpse of creativity in action, showing how life feeds fiction, and vice versa. While Levy admires Baldwin, de Beauvoir, and Duras, in many passages she sounds more like Virginia Woolf: “the appeal of writing…was an invitation to climb in-between the apparent reality of things,” she says. And:  “writing a novel requires many hours of sitting still, as if on a long-haul flight, destination unknown.” Down-to-earth, lyrical, inspiring, Levy makes you want to quote her every word.

The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635571912
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - July 10th, 2018

Membership Benefits


 Gift cards can be used online or in-store.

Gift Card