Read Billy and Girl by Deborah Levy Online


In this brilliant, inventive, tragic farce, Deborah Levy creates the ultimate dysfunctional kids, Billy and his sister Girl. Apparently abandoned years ago by their parents, they now live alone somewhere in England. Girl spends much of her time trying to find their mother, going to strangers' doors and addressing whatever Prozac woman who answers as "Mom." Billy spends hisIn this brilliant, inventive, tragic farce, Deborah Levy creates the ultimate dysfunctional kids, Billy and his sister Girl. Apparently abandoned years ago by their parents, they now live alone somewhere in England. Girl spends much of her time trying to find their mother, going to strangers' doors and addressing whatever Prozac woman who answers as "Mom." Billy spends his time fantasizing a future in which he will be famous, perhaps in the United States as a movie star, or as a psychiatrist, or as a doctor to blondes with breast enlargements, or as the author of "Billy England's Book of Pain." Together they both support and torture each other, barely able to remember their pasts but intent on forging a future that will bring them happiness and reunite them with the ever-elusive Mom. Billy and Girl are every boy and girl reeling from the pain of their childhoods, forgetting what they need to forget, inventing worlds they think will be better, but usually just prolonging nightmares as they begin to create--or so it seems--alternative personalities that will allow them to survive and conquer and punish. In the end, the reader is as bewildered as Billy and Girl--have they found Mom and a semblance of family, or are, they completely out of control and ready to explode?...

Title : Billy and Girl
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781564782021
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 192 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Billy and Girl Reviews

  • Mike Puma
    2019-04-19 17:15

    My, my, my. What to say? What to say? Perhaps, only, THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. If it were a review, I’d be able to recommend it or dissuade a potential reader. I can do neither.B&G came to my attention via a 5-star, revelrous review by my favorite Scot (who will remain my favorite Scot, at the very least, until I’ve met a second one). I read his review, ordered it immediately (after all, did he not turn me on to B.S. Johnson and Gilbert Sorrentino?) and let it sit on my TBR shelf for an entire year—until I went looking for something that might be read quickly. Its moment arrived, and I read it. But before reading it, I noticed another GR friend’s review—an ominous 2-star-er, with an advisory “Recommends it for: I couldn't.” Uh, oh. Two well-read GR friends with virtually opposite reactions. Not wanting to be further predisposed, I waited until after reading B&G to read the second review. Oy!As luck has it, they each reflect my feelings on this one. I liked it, sorta, and didn’t like it, sorta. I liked the character of Billy and his constant bemoaning a life in pain. Oddly enough, a quote hit my feed today, "...and there was nothing to do except to wait and to hurt." — Mark Haddon. I’m a Haddon fan. I liked the odd brother/sister banter that rings true. I liked the author’s style—fast-paced and blistering. On the other hand, I never did get quite accustomed to a comfort level with not knowing what was happening (I still don’t know if there was one Louise or two). And that ending? Someone needs to pay.So, on this one I’m Switzerland. I can neither recommend or dissuade, praise or condemn, love or hate. In general, I liked it, hence the 4 stars, but that doesn’t mean: rush out and get it. If you really must read it, I’ll say what I’ve said before, get it from the library, or borrow mine (you know who you are).

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-04-14 15:55

    Oh God, God, God this is good. Soooo goood. This is silk in prose form. A thorough back rub followed by a two-week cruise on the Med with Sophie Dahl in prose form. This is motherlickin’ awesome.Billy & Girl is a novel about a brother and sisters. That plural wasn’t an accident. Girl is the protagonist, a whip-smart but damaged teenager who set fire to her father for beating up her brother, Billy. The novel follows their attempts to reinstate their lost parents following this inflammatory snub. Girl appears to suffer from a bipolar personality disorder, her ‘retarded’ self working in FreezerWorld as the dowdy Louise. What makes this novel so good is how Levy pulls us into an implausible and demented world of two broken and fucked up children, lost in the shrub of a parentless wild, and makes us laugh and vomit and weep and stare gawp-eyed at the page in horror. Her style is more addictive than a chocolate-covered brownie fudge cake. At the centre of this chocolate-covered brownie fudge cake is hair and spiders and worms. Truly amazing.As the story progresses, Louise materialises into a separate character, an actual distinct entity, and the novel opens up a box of hairy metaphysical goblins to gnaw your brain. The whole book burns with the most energetic and hair-tugging prose you’re likely to read about two teenage rapscallions living in their own psychopathic dream-delusion. Read this or I will hunt you down and kill you.

  • Mariel
    2019-04-20 15:12

    You know that tv cliche of a bunch of really little kids getting asked what they wanna be when they grow up? And every kid answers something flashy like "Movie star!" and "Cowboy!" because it was the first flashy thing that came into their head? And then the story moves on as if there are no other thoughts in the heads of those children?Billy and Girl is like that. I waited for the posturing to mean something other than off the top of their heads tv baby reflected sheen in their eyes... I waited to feel as in love with the characters as the author clearly was. I couldn't feel that. It felt like reading a magazine or watching a tv ad.Girl has vague notions of romance. She has even vaguer notions about her daddy. I'm not sure where the Freezer World stuff comes in (I'm guessing it is a UK equivalent of Wal-Mart?), except some tossed in message! about unthinking latch key kids nursing on the teet of consumerism. I thought it was lazy. I wish that the multiple personalities had felt like, well, personalities rather than images to put on and play like a one-girl girl band line-up.Billy was routinely and savagely beaten by their dad. Girl loved their daddy but mama made her do lots of chores and forgot her name (hence "Girl"). Billy loves the mom but she couldn't have loved him much. She lets him get beaten, for one (so does Girl), and then both parents ditch 'em. Girl takes out everything on Billy and Billy lives in fantasy land. To be happy the other one would probably have to suck it. A long series of vague fantasies like a two year old wants to eat candy all day long...I don't want beep statistics. I didn't want the bravado! I wanted to feel like I wasn't hanging out with name dropping big talkers from my old high school, probably. These kids would be walk-on roles in a Law and Order spin-off show and felt like walk-ons. They just walked in and out, repeatedly. I didn't know anyone then. Maybe that's how it usually is... but why the hell am I reading this book for, then? The world just isn't made up of "we were abused so our every fart is special" (for all that happened to each other, they might as well have been on the tv in the room for all they took notice of reality.)Billy's pizzas sounded absolutely disgusting. One time my ex ate this anchovi pizza, and just the smell made me feel sicker than I ever had in my life. I can't think about it without feeling sick. Nothing is more disgusting to me. Billy dumps the entire ocean on his pizzas. I want to throw up.Next time a book description names "She's on a quest for the perfect cocktail" as a plot point, I'm not gonna read it. Just not gonna do it. If "My baklava angel" passes for fantastical endearments, I guess... What did I need to write a review for? I should just say it's a series of fantasies that want to say we-hurt-the-ones-we-love without making anything near to a case for that. I don't believe you hurt the ones you love. I think you hurt people you can get away with hurting. The rest don't stick around.

  • Jonathan
    2019-04-16 16:59

    Some fantastic prose here, and some powerful exploration/exhumation/extrapolation of psychic pain. At times, unfortunately, I felt the characters fell into simple cypher territory, or became just mouths to speak some short, gnomic, sentences. Nevertheless, there are some breathtaking set-pieces, and I did enjoy the feeling of not quite having a grip on the "reality" of the text. Definitely a talent, though my wife (who has read all of her books) tells me some of her later work is better. We shall see…

  • Doug
    2019-04-15 15:16

    Having now read most of the Levy canon, this falls somewhere in the middle range - not quite as good as her masterpieces, 'Hot Milk' and 'The Unloved', but a bit more accessible and better developed than 'Swallowing Geography' or 'Ophelia and the Great Idea'. It actually most reminded me of the early work of another of my fav Brit authors, Philip Ridley, and had the author not been on the cover, I'd have suspected it was his.

  • Rand
    2019-03-31 12:05

    Roughly seven years ago I snagged a galley of this from the discards pile outside the library of the local community college. Apparently there was once a feminist-leaning group at the college who did zines and classes on theory and stuff and this was part of their library collection.I have gotten better books for free.Read this one if you appreciate zaniness for the sake of zaniness. There were a few good lines (and Billy's narration of his conception-to-birth sequence was cool) but the characters were super annoying, which, for a "character-driven" novel spells trouble.Part of the trouble with this book is how dated it feels now. Maybe if I had watched more TV in the nineties I would care more about this but I dunno.

  • Alan
    2019-04-10 12:00

    review coming..umm, I didn't engage much with the characters, I didn't feel the plot stood up, I didn't really feel any 'traction'. So why four stars? Because I liked some of the writing and the satire was brilliant. three and a half stars really, but rounded up because it's Christmas (nearly).thought a bit more about this: the tale of kids trying to find parents (Girl knocks on random doors to see if their mother lives within) is blunt and a bit obvious; the 'Freezer-World' consumer satire is funny, and sometimes biting; the characters were knock-about laugh-a-lot ones, so when something serious like kidnap happens I didn't really feel the pain. That's even though Billy is writing a book about pain (he wants to be a doctor when he grows up). Readable, but a bit broad and flat for me.

  • Tuck
    2019-04-08 15:59

    read for dalkey goodreads group. due dec 1st 2013a bit flat on plot but makes up for it in neighborhood-dystopia. reminds me a bit of being 13 and totally drunk and high for like a week, and everything seems both perfect and surreal, and why can;t it be easier to have booze and drugs all all the time when you don;t have a job, money, car, or hell even hair?! but then too the grocery store scenes in this novel remind me of my local shop, which is both kinda fun and scary as shit. i love deborah levy for reminding me of 'good ol' days' and how to enjoy shopping. i was wishing they would burn her dad up some more though.

  • Jim
    2019-03-28 16:50

    This book was okay and had great potential, but somehow in the end, the author lost her book. A missing mother, an absent disfigured presumed dead father, two abandoned teens living alone on grandpa's gambling winnings, a stereotypical Indian store-owner's son, and a runaway girl with boring shoes - all the ingredients are there, but in the end, the soufflé flopped. Moments of intense intensity intensely rendered, but somehow the moments fizzled out, and at the end, the only thing missing was a rousing rendition of "99 bottles of beer on the wall".

  • Nathanimal
    2019-04-16 12:15

    If like me you enjoy being bounced around on the biceps of brawny sentences that throw lots of slangy declarative punches and fragmentary jabs, and hardly ever duck behind a namby-pamby qualifying clause, then you will probably enjoy this book where voice is king. But beware, this king is a dictator to whom all characters must bow by sounding exactly the same and not wanting much that is (to this reader, anyway) deeply felt or believable except to have that king's royal tongue in their mouths.

  • Oriana
    2019-04-18 16:56

    crazily enthusiastic review from MJ, wherein he says "As the story progresses, the novel opens up a box of hairy metaphysical goblins to gnaw your brain. The whole book burns with the most energetic and hair-tugging prose you’re likely to read about two teenage rapscallions living in their own psychopathic dream-delusion." Holyshityes.

  • Marion Roux
    2019-03-31 12:51


  • wally
    2019-04-08 09:53

    3 feb 161st from levy for me.story begins:billysoon all the kids in england will be pushing up daisies.that's what girl says every night before i go to sleep. girl is my sister and i'm scared of her. she's seventeen years old and got ice in her veins. tonight she reads me my rights.onward, ever onward. 9 feb 16finished. three stars. i "liked it". more than 3-stars...ooga booga. stupid star system. where's pluto? runnin around with daffy maybe. i "liked it" more so throughout less so by story end where we had in cars. see harry.yeah, so, you won't likely read one quite like this one...the tone of voice/s...teenage wasteland and all that. holden on drugs...or something. i liked the narrative style...this back and forth, girl...billy...others. one complaint i considered...yesterday this was...or was it earlier today? is that at times i had an image of billy/girl...age we're talking...girl was fairly consistent throughout...but at moments i was trying to figure/image in, how old is he? having these adult thoughts at times...when earlier i imaged him as a young kid. and he is that, at times in the telling, the past is present as they say in literary circles. time passagesi did not note pages...alas...but herein time passages happen with billy as much as with girl in their california dreaming...imagining a different life, o western wind, when wilt thou blow? that sort of thing. real enough that this reader thought it was actually happening, until i realized it is like the song, it was late in december...the sky turned to snow...all round the day was going down slow...and...that was nice to see from time passages. miss it when i don't find it for periods of time. all in all, a good read. check it out. don't let the stars fool you. in the end they are meaningless...if the posts all in a row are plumb and true is the fence-line any less of a fence-line? say if there is no wire on them? or the wire is hanging low? onward and upward.

  • Alana Voth
    2019-04-22 14:16

    Was it Elmore Leonard who said if a book sounds like "writing" revise it? I'm sure more than one writer has made that suggestion. I liked Billy and Girl but didn't love it because ultimately this book isn't a story so much as a study in extended metaphor and language. Deborah Levy's use of POV was genius, as we move in-and-out of 1st and 3rd person. Likewise, I enjoyed the chance to jump into each character's head and experience different perspectives. That being said, I expected a surprise revelation that didn't occur, as in are "Louise" and "Louise" the same person, split personalities, something? Levy put a lot of time and energy into images and metaphors and sentence fragments that created a marvelous rhythm at times and yet sometimes threw me out of the story. More than once I had to ask myself, "What just happened?" And "What does this mean?" I purchased this book years ago when I was in an MFA Program, and had I read it then, I would have thought the book was genius through-and-through, a masterful display of craft, language, and imagery. Now, I just want stories. XO.

  • Sonia
    2019-04-24 13:09

    The publisher's blurb says that Levy expects American readers will get the humor more and implies that they are more used to scrappy lower class heroes. Maybe, but given how much Anglophilia I deal with in my friends and myself, I am glad to read books that remind me that England is really f***ing craptastic after all. I was strongly reminded of a film I saw at PIFF in 2011, THE ARBOR, about the prodigious but ultimately tragic Andrea Dunbar.The disjointed style punctuated by insights and punny witticisms is an interesting take on capturing the feel of adolescence--I thought the Louise(s) were much more rounded than Billy and Raj.

  • Ewan
    2019-03-25 16:01

    Levy sets out a literary mystery around two siblings and the world they inhabit. As it is with Swimming Home, there is a watery stage at the centre of the action: here, a supermarket that sounds like (but for copyright reasons is not) Farmfoods. Missing parents, dreams bound up with exile, precocious youths, trauma and characters living within narratives created by others.

  • Crystal Curry
    2019-04-09 14:53

    My Baklava Angel

  • Very Hungry
    2019-04-20 15:13

    Fantastic, experimental but accessible book.

  • Erin
    2019-04-06 15:09

    Totally weird. Try not to over think this book because it'll give you a headache.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-27 16:06