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HomeEntertainmentDeborah Levy. "Hypochondriacs...

Deborah Levy. “Hypochondriacs are like writers. they keep changing their story as soon as the doctor gets close to a diagnosis.”

In his novel Hot milkthe famous author of Cost of living tells the story of a mother and her daughter, lust, jellyfish and hypochondria.

In his novel Hot milkwritten and published in England before the autobiographical trilogy that made him famous (What I don’t want to know is the cost of living, the state of the gameDeborah Levy stars as a mother, Rose, and her daughter, Sofia, who travel to Almería, Spain in the hopes that a controversial physician, Dr. Gomez, will find a cure for a mysterious illness that afflicts Rose. years. A book of sea, sun and jellyfish about finding courage for yourself, and a novel with a hypnotic charm, soon to be adapted for film by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, with Emma McKee and Vicky Cripps. Interview:

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Madame Figaro. What is the heart? Hot milk ?
Deborah Levy. I wanted to put the body at the center of the novel, here through hypochondria. There’s a hypochondriac in every family, and it’s both a comic and a tragic theme. Rose’s mother’s body shows symptoms, and Sophia, her daughter, is like a detective who spends her time interpreting these symptoms since childhood. “Mom has a migraine, now she can’t get up, why, what does it mean…” I focus on what the body reveals, how it expresses itself. The physical body, the sexual body, the abandoned body, because Sofia was abandoned by her father, and it is also a body on a Spanish beach, in Almeria, the sun on the skin, sea baths and injections of jellyfish, through which their venom, make Sofia leave her passivity, the courage to find herself to be… At that time I was writing. Hot milk, it was a time of austerity, which was spoken of as the “bitter medicine” needed to cure the economy, and all this medical language used for the economy, which also has a body, m ‘stroke. After all, language always remains my primary subject.

What interests you about hypochondria?
How they resist diagnosis, presenting their doctor with unexplained symptoms, and how they change their story as soon as the doctor approaches a possible diagnosis. Hypochondriacs are sometimes described as “obese file patients” because their files contain so many entries that they look like directories… Doctors consider stories when describing their symptoms, and hypochondriacs are like writers; story – and constantly challenge the narrative. “Well, it can’t be a migraine. It can’t be a migraine because…

Hot milk Is it an initiative novel for you?

Yes, with the idea that you should let go of anything that slows you down and holds you back, even if it’s complicated. Sofia must cut ties with her mother, whom she loves dearly, but who keeps her from moving forward. The novel’s refrain, its refrain, can be summed up in this sentence. “My mother’s love is like an ax, it cuts deep. » She is also the daughter of a man whose name is in Greek, which she must constantly correct to others, even though he left when she was very young… How to live this identity that she literally has to write? With Dr. Gomez, I wanted to create a character that we don’t know if he’s a genius or a charlatan, which was a lot of fun. But he is also a father figure to Sophia, whom he takes care of, because he realizes that he himself took care of his mother all his life and wants to relieve her of this burden.

Hot milk, Deborah Levy, translated from English by Celine Leroy, ed. basement.
Press:

Water comes up often in your work. What is that a metaphor for? The floating meaning of things.
I use it mainly for its sensuality. Water is also rain that softens landscapes. This is an observation rather than a metaphor. We water the plants and the soil loosens, it’s that simple… Personally, water is important for the swimmer that I am. I swim to relax my body, to clear my mind, as one devotes himself to meditation. When writing, the mind is so saturated with the book, so busy, so tense, that it is important to have a ritual like swimming. I swam with Chantal Thomas in Nice and London, I swim in the lakes of Hampstead, which I get to by bike. I start in May when the water is 14 degrees. Writing and swimming are two related activities that help each other. If I didn’t swim, I could walk in the mountains or take a walk in the forest. It also allows me to solve literary problems. Swimming allows you to let go, to let go of what prevents you from writing and blocking it. It gives space, freedom. We leave the pages to be transformed into something else, reincarnated into another creation.

You wrote this novel before the autobiographical trilogy that made you famous. Is writing fiction and nonfiction very different?
Now I am starting the fourth part of my “living autobiography”. I avoid talking about it because I’m in the beginning. What I can tell you is that fiction and non-fiction come from the same mind and the same sensitivity to the world. Shakespeare wrote sonnets and plays, Duras wrote films and novels, and each time we find their temperament, color, but with different rules. Every book has its own rules, even if you made them up. There are characters, avatars in the novels that carry your arguments. There is a certain formality and intimacy in autobiographies, a style that suits a writer like me. It’s about maintaining a balance between the two.

Hot milk, Deborah Levy, translated from English by Celine Leroy, ed. basement, 320 p., €22.50.

Source: Le Figaro

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