PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

This review is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

Fragments of Loss deborah levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories) £10

People stopped to look at her. To gaze and gaze again at the vision of a radiant young woman in a green silk dress who seemed to be walking on air [...] Kitty Finch with her wealth of hair piled on top of her head was almost as tall as Joe Jacobs. As they strolled down the Promenade des Anglais in the silver light of the later afternoon, it was snowing seagulls on every rooftop in Nice.

Swimming Home is not unlike a game of chess, somewhat unrelaxing. Deborah Levy places two ill-matched couples - Mitchell and Laura, Isabel and Joe, as well as the latter's pubescent daughter - on the superannuated if sometimes still alluring French Riviera. Here the nights are 'soft' and 'the days [are] hard' and smell of money. Novelists have always found it useful to take their protagonists out of habitual environments and place them elsewhere for closer examination. E.M. Forster, for example, makes this his modus operandi, and there's an ironic aptness in taking these 'English' characters to the Promenade des Anglais.

Being taken out of England is tantamount to being arranged on a psychiatrist's couch, and this is a book charged with psychological matter. Discombobulating narratives filter through the novel. The all-seeing neighbour Dr Madeline Sheridan, not without her own psychological crises, is unnerving, and the owner of the villa, the off-page psychoanalyst Rita ('Dominatrix') Dwighter, is present through her absence. The reference to Dr Ortega might have ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image