Real Estate: Deborah Levy’s home truths, a triumph of simplicity
Book review: Final volume of her ‘living biography’ hums with voracious curiosity
Deborah Levy: ‘Not only does nothing escape her gaze, but there is no hierarchy.’ Photograph: Jane Thorburn
In the opening of Real Estate, the third and final volume of her “living biography”, Deborah Levy buys a banana plant from a young woman outside Shoreditch High Street station. As she hands over the money, Levy imagines the vendor’s inky false eyelashes stretching “all the way from the bagel shops and grey cobblestones of East London to the deserts and mountains of New Mexico”. On the train-then-bus journey home with her unwieldy purchase, her thoughts flit from the egg-shaped fireplace she will have in her ideal home to artist Georgia O’Keeffe on flowers.
Approaching 60, there is the sense that Levy is making an inventory of what she has accumulated
It’s quintessential Levy. The languid yet precise prose, the fine mind she allows to wander through a series of ideas and connections before getting to the nub: she is in search of a house. In other hands this could read like a script for afternoon TV’s A Place in the Sun, but Levy’s ideal home is one she constructs and reconstructs in her imagination, what she calls her “unreal estate”.