What are you reading? – 13 July 2017

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

July 13, 2017
Book shelf
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Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk (Penguin, 2017). “Sofia has abandoned her PhD in anthropology to care for her mother, a bitter and critical woman whose legs are as numb and as helpless as Sofia herself seems to be. Seeking answers from Dr Gomez and his daughter, they travel to the south of Spain where her mother’s last hope may also turn out to be Sofia’s, as she drifts between her clinging mother, her distant father and her own unexplored desires. Poetic, steeped in sun and metaphor, Levy draws us into Sofia’s mind as she turns everyone around her into a study without realising that she is the subject. Perhaps occasionally a little too neat in the way all the threads are knitted together (Greece, jellyfish, anthropology), it is nevertheless a book that continues to resonate beyond the last page.”

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13 (Fourth Estate, 2017). “At its heart this is a mystery in which a teenage girl goes missing in the countryside, sparking a major search and media focus on a quiet village. Everyone joins in the hunt for a while, but life has to carry on and gradually things seem to get back to normal. However, nothing can ever be the same again. Year in, year out, everyone goes about their business, but the disappearance seems to infect every part of village and country life. It’s a beautifully written, deceptively transparent and perfectly paced novel. This is the fourth novel from McGregor, professor of creative writing at the University of Nottingham, and it is undoubtedly his best. Pastoral and poetic, powerful and deep, it is a truly outstanding work.”

Lucy Bolton, senior lecturer in film studies, Queen Mary University of London, is reading Luce Irigaray and Michael Marder’s Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives (Columbia University Press, 2016). “Having studied the work of Luce Irigaray so intensively for my PhD thesis and first monograph, I moved away from her work as postdoctoral projects took me in other directions in film studies and philosophy. Being invited to give a keynote talk on her this conference season sent me back to her work and an assessment of what she has produced in the last eight years, including Through Vegetal Being. This co-authored book is unlike anything she has written before in several ways: the focus on plant life and the vegetal world in the construction of subjectivity; a more ecological and earthly sensibility in the writing; and, fascinatingly, a highly personal account of how her own life and health have been influenced by the natural world.”

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