He is a renowned Swedish filmmaker and has a plan for everything. She is his daughter, by the actress he directed and once loved. Each summer of her childhood, the daughter visits the father at his remote Faro island home on the edge of the Baltic Sea. Now that she’s grown up – a writer, with children of her own – and he’s in his eighties, they envision writing a book together, about old age, language, memory and loss. She will ask the questions. He will answer them. The tape recorder will record. But it’s winter now and old age has caught up with him in ways neither could have foreseen. And when the father is gone, only memories, images and words – both remembered and recorded – remain. And from these the daughter begins to write her own story, in the pages which become this book.
Following the international critical acclaim of ‘The Cost of Living’, this final volume of Deborah Levy’s ‘Living Autobiography’ is an exhilarating, thought-provoking and boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it.
As in ‘The Lost Words’, these ‘spells’ take their subjects from relatively commonplace, and yet underappreciated, animals, birds, trees and flowers – from barn owl to red fox, grey seal to silver birch, jay to jackdaw. But they break out of the triptych format of ‘The Lost Words’, finding new shapes, new spaces and new voices with which to conjure. ‘The Lost Spells’ summons back what is often lost from sight and care, and inspires protection and action on behalf of the natural world. Above all, it celebrates a sense of wonder, bearing witness to nature’s power to amaze, console and bring joy.