My wife used to read the TLS books of the year dition and use it to choose books she wanted to get Then one fateful year veryone recommended a certain book she purchased it in xpensive hardcover read it in a day and was completely flummoxed The book was garbage What to make of this She decided that the UK publishing scene is so small and her word incestuous that they just read the same five books and then talked about them for a week before moving on She no longer looks to the TLS Codependent Forevermore: The Invention of Self in a Twelve Step Group end of the year special for any tips And Rachel Cusk s abysmal Outline seems to be another case of British froth that has now migrated across the pond for no obvious reason You might really like to read Outline if for instance you really want to read a version of Jacob s Room without all thatxcessively beautiful prose and you just can t get nough of the post Sebaldian I did this then I did that I thought about a kiss then I sat on a cat contemporary novel Yes this is a book in which a woman goes to Greece and talks about stuff with people You may be shocked to learn that a people get divorced andb people tell stories about themselves But I suggest you should be shocked that a book set in contemporary Greece of all places is so hermetically sealed in the world of upper middle class creativebusiness types You should be shocked that the dreary prose of Literary Fiction can receive such rapturous reviews You should be shocked that deep wisdom about being caught in a net of words and trying to find a different way of living in the world and the odd spot of anti literary meta narrative a story might merely be a series of vents we believe ourselves to be involved in but on which we have absolutely no influence at all the story of improvement has Conscience and Memory even infected the novel though perhaps now the novel is infecting us back again so that wexpect of our lives what we ve come to Pansy Vol. 6 expect of our books can be thrown between two covers and sold to the general public And if you re not shocked by that at least be shocked by the fact that FSG saw fit to publish this in a sans serif font as if adverting to the fact thatveryone can talk about it but nobody will read it To be fair I learned about the project to translate Karl Krauss s Last Days of Mankind from it last year so it s not all bad Although I ve read this in English I thought that the title for the Spanish translation suited the novel better then the original Contraluz that translates literally as backlighting but whose meaning is something like against the light fitted better this novel in which an English woman who travels to Athens to teach writing to Greek pupils leaves behind a shaded world to face her life and herself against the Aegean sunThis novel is loaded with material Gender is prominent women women and children women and men women and marriage women and a profession And with gender comes identity And with identity representation And with representation writing For Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods even if the novel a couple of times uestions the need for structures what stringsverything together is the phenomenon of story telling The narrator s role is that of an amanuensis who registers all the conversations she has during her writing trip the man on the plane the man on the boat the British friend the friend of the friend the friend of the friend of the friend And when the oral stories are not offered during her fortuitous ncounters then in her writing classes her teaching consists of bringing stories out of her Greek pupilsAs I am currently reading Ovid s Metamorphoses where an xtensive panorama of stories are held together by complex Education in a New Society entwined narrative threadsncountering Cusk s yarn felt I was in a familiar weaving workshopApart from looking at her stories an activity that I found somewhat addictive since Cusk is very successful at xploiting the narrative pull I was also trying to discern against the narrative screen the identity of the narrator But I could only loose threads that would not weave into a complete image Certainly a contraluzSome aspects however did not convince me The way she deals with people whose main language is not English is unconvincing It made me smile when she presents a Greek person who speaks English very fluidly mistaking twice a couple of words with a weighty Latin DNA view spoilerIt is precisely the words that originate in Latin the ones asier to learn for an European non English speaker since for them they are not the learned terms My xperience is that the Greeks who speak other European languages have a good grasp of tymological roots from their own language and from Latin The four words were solicitude solitude prolixity proximity hide spoiler Staggeringly uniue in its simplicity Essentially a series of interactions over a week long trip to Greece where the lead is teaching a writing class the characters are so rich yet so contained and the lead s character was at once the most interesting and the most invisible I dug through the the text for information about her frustrated and thrilled that her interlocutors The Baby Swap Miracle even a random stranger from an airplane knew about her life s story than we did But by thend I somehow felt that I knew her I could predict how she would respond Realness is an overused idea but the character began to feel truly human I specially loved the writing classroom scenes which were so stripped out of things that I associate with great literature and yet were so much than a stage play A series of interwoven microfictions perhapsCusk s powers of observation are remarkable That goes without saying She s really xcellent with characters lying or behaving oddly And something about the lead that is smart she seems to inspire confession and that makes the scenes immediately believable I also wonder how much KNOWING this is the first part of a trilogy makes a difference I felt no urgency to learn what I don t know just pleasure Little beats will stick with me a boat accelerating too uickly a friend handing a photo overMy one complaint for better and worse is that I never felt compelled to keep reading It s a brilliant heady book but intentionally has no grip This made me fascinated by it but it also slowed me down 5 pristine refreshing clear stars 2016 Bronze Award Third Favorite Read Tie I am a man that resides in the world of motion They are here with me always and are always acute not in the background Emotions often make me soar to the heavens or shiver in delight but other times they make me flounder weigh me down like the xperience of walking in the cold snow with a hole in my boot that leaves my precious foot frigid and lonelyI am unsure why the last paragraph came to my consciousness as I write a review of this sparkling intelligent and mesmerizing book This is an unusual novel that very successfully describes the process of thinking that in many ways is antithetical to my own psychological processesThis is a book about thought in its clearest and purest form Emotion is not xperienced Outline is a novel in ten conversations Spare and lucid it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during an oppressively hot summer in Athens She leads her students in storytelling xercises She meets oth.
Eally but rather described in a way that uenched my thirst and helped me navigate my inner wildernessI had to read this book in such small sections as I wanted to savor Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation each andvery sentence that was so carefully crafted and became a miniature portrait of beauty in its simplest forms Ms Cusk is a photographer of thought and insight and she captures stills that really are too uick for the human Gender Justice eye or the rather the mind sye to see For the person that is thought based this would lead to interest and Generations and Collective Memory enlightenment but for somebody that ismotion based it leads for me to the heights of passion a sense of wonder and at other times brief despair Ms Cusk s prose however rescues me and makes me shake in wonder with respect that her creative mind can distill with such clarity and wisdom many truths about relationships personal histories and the veryday minutiae of life Minutiae and details that really should not be overlooked but relished for there are so many and in ach one there is a profoundness that can lead a thoughtful person to create a work of philosophy and an From Notes to Narrative emotional one toither spiritual fervor or the Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America elicitation of rarermotions such as cstasy and wonderAs I write this I almost feel that I am channeling part of Ms Cusk in an alternate form as the words are whirring out faster and faster onto this page Her work makes me feel lighter beautiful and that my own personal story is important not just to myself but also perhaps to you the reader I cannot xpect to be understood but through small conversations I can connect to you and clarify and see the world in its lightness its darkness and its momentary illusionsI know by reading this review that you do not know what this book is about but I hope that these sentences convey my immense respect my desire for insights and my thankfulness that this novel has been created This is not only on my familiar Hard Bread (Phoenix Poets (Paper)) emotional level but also through my written thoughts and reflectionsThis book is not about conversations as many reviewers have stated but a series of solilouies that interact mergexpand and sometimes dieThank you Ms Cusk I want so much of your prose that I am aching with longing I am thirsty for thought already and again Mellifluous with a beautifully honed thematic core The tone nimbly alternates between black despair and forlornness and subtle humor If EM Forster xcelled at intrusive narrators always commenting on vents Rachel Cusk s narrator here might be called unintrusive for the way she hangs back and let s others speak One of the walking wounded herself her damage manifests itself in a kind of unuestioning passivity She s going through the motionsThe narrator is an unnamed divorced woman English a writer of middle age who is in Athens one hot summer to teach a writing workshop A key motif here is of looking back and seeing that for many years you lived your life almost unconsciously that time then simply lapsed and in retrospect you see it as freedom yes but you also see it as unfocused almost rambling free style in ssence and this is something a mindset a way of being you could not adopt today if you tried such being the indelibility of Foraging for Survival experience When I looked at the family on the boat I saw a vision of what I no longer had I saw something in other words that wasn t there Those people were living in their moment and though I could see it I could no return to that moment than I could walk across the water that separated us And of those two ways of living living in the moment and living outside it which is the real p 75Later we meet a woman Elena who says Very often I have felt that my relationships have no story and the reason is because I have jumped ahead of myself the way I used to turn the pages of a book to find out what happens in the final chapter I want to knowverything straight away I want to know the content without living through the time span p 191 Here too is someone living outside the moment rather than in it Since reading the book is the moment we live for Thus Elena deprives her relationships of their Fragments essence so busy is she trying to head off any surprises any pain This is a brilliant novel It s astonishingly fresh It reminds me in its compression andconomy not its style nor its themes of a few other Foundations of Tropical Forest Biology: Classic Papers with Commentaries exuisite books including Ernest Hemingway s best novel The Sun Also Rises Per Petterson s stark Out Stealing Horses and Willa Cather s terse frontier fable My ntonia The protagonist is a British novelist who goes to Greece for one week to teach creative writing She Faye is divorced and has 2 sons who stayed back in LondonThat s about all we know of her for awhile Actually we never learned her name until late in the book We are slowly piecing together stories about Faye The uniueness of this novel is cerebral and gorgeousBefore the narratorven arrives in Athens she ngages in an intriguing intimate conversation with an older man sitting next to her on the airplane She listens closely to his story about his marriages houses kids boats tc She observes deeplyWhen Faye begins teaching we observe how her students stories are becoming source material for her own writing It s a fascinating process to interact with a writer s mind in uiet action By the nd of this book I felt I knew Faye just by the way she absorbed stories from others The characters and stories were wonderful Nothing was flashyRelationships were xplored strengths and weaknessesEmotions were xplored conflicts ntanglement Love and humanity was xplored Most I couldn t help but be seduced by the outstanding prose I m definitely reading the next two books in this series While I m reading a book I m often aware that my perception of time gets a little warped because story time can run much faster than the time it takes to read it This imbalance can leave me a bit disoriented when I lay the book down and adjust to the fact that it s still the same day as when I began reading though years may have gone by for the characters among whom I ve spent the last hour or two While reading this book on the other hand real time passed much faster than story time And story time moved so very slowly that my reading pace slowed down too I d freuently realise that I d been on the same page for a long time that I was in a sort of suspended mode not reading hardly thinking uite numbed The image of a Salvador Dali painting came to mind several times while in that suspended mode the one where the clocks all stopped at a particular moment in time are slowly melting awayIt is not only Dali s warped clocks that reflect my xperience with this book it is also the title of his painting The Persistence of Memory The narrative voice is obstinately persistent and remembering is its obsession I say narrative voice rather than narrative voices because although there is a chorus of voices they all sound the same They sound the same because they are mediated to the reader for the most part through the voice of the narrator She reports what th. Er visiting writers for dinner She goes swimming with an Helpmate elderly Greek bachelor The people shencounters speak volubly about themselves their fantasies anxieties pet theories regrets and longings And through these disclos.
Ey say When they are allowed to speak directly it is very refreshing and if as on a few occasions the narrator gives the reader a little view of them as they speak it s like manna in the desert Yet it is not what I feel myself Angeliki said rearranging the lovely grey tissue of her sleevesThat little detail about the sleeves showed me the character for the first time when her long long story reported by the narrator had failed to make her real for me The persistently relentless telling that makes up so much of this book mostly concerns one theme fractured relationships and broken marriages In all of the stories related to this theme there is a defining moment as if Art, Culture, and Cuisine: Ancient and Medieval Gastronomy each character s personal clock had stopped at just that moment Years may have passed but they remain obsessed with remembering the incident and seem to have anndless need to talk about it a compulsion verging on lunacy And the irony is that it is the lucidity of the narrator s probing uestions that prompts the outburst of lunacy very timeLucidity and lunacy That pairing of words which sound similar while being very different choes the wordplay the author uses to mark the beginning and Black British Cultural Studies: A Reader end of this otherwise serious narrative In thearly pages a character mistakenly uses the word prolixity for proximity His slip up is funny because it is already clear to the reader that he is going to be tediously long winded At the Gypsy World: The Silence of the Living and the Voices of the Dead end of the book the same character uses the word solicitude when he means solitude That brings in a little humour again because this character has in fact been maddeningly over solicitous during the course of the book a behaviour which causes his solitude in thend NeatThe conch shell on the cover is neat too Like a human Bryozoan Evolution ear Relentlessly listening In Outline a writer named Faye perhaps not unlike Rachel Cusk herself travels to Athens for a few days to lead a writing workshop Along the way shengages in conversations with several people her seatmate on the plane other teachers and students in the workshop friends she meets up with friends those friends have brought along Crisis and Continuity at the Abbasid Court: Formal and Informal Politics in the Caliphate of Al-Muqtadir (295-320/908-32) et cetera Sometimes Faye listens to these people without comment sometimes she challenges them sometimes she reveals something about herself That s all The novel is a collection of conversationsIn the wrong hands this could be a disastrous idea for a book but in the hands of a good writer what could be interesting In fact I wouldn t mind seeing other good writers tackle this same idea using their ownxperiences and travels This book would be very different if written by say Nick Hornby or Margaret Atwood In this particular case I felt like I became the narrator It was me on the plane on the boat having conversations with these people and walking the streets of Athens The oppressive heat of the summer gave the book a languorous feel I was very happy to get lost in it and while I related to some characters than others I suspect this is the kind of book that will reveal of itself and of you to yourself if you go back to it after a number of years have gone byI can already hear the criticisms of this book It s boring It isn t It s pretentious It s actually the furthest thing from pretentious it s not trying to be anything other than what it is Or my favorite least favorite criticism of any book No one actually talks like this I don t know if it s true that no one actually talks like this I haven t met Silvers Edge everyone in the world But frankly if I wanted to hear how people actually talk I d go hang out at the bus station Most of the time I d rather be reading novels like this one Reading Outline is like spying on an author in the process of auditioning characters for a future novel In other words it is indeed an outline an outline for a work that it still shadowy in the writer s mind Cusk interviews her potential characters and lets them tell hermotionally pivotal stories about themselves She makes no other dramatic demands of them They become like a Greek chorus of voices without a play A writer unnamed until the penultimate chapter travels to Athens to host a writing workshop Each chapter ither recounts a conversation with someone she meets or a group discussion with her writing class If Cusk has an agenda a unifying theme to these conversations it is the shredding of romantic illusion Its principal agents sexual attraction and parenthood are both mercilessly called to account Cusk it becomes clear had had nough of illusion The narrator bitter herself Going Berserk extols the virtues of passivity as a philosophy of life And byxtension it s as if Cusk is bored with creating the illusions necessary to write novels She s like the magician who can no longer be bothered to go through the charade of masking the tricks She s a writer letting us know how bored she is with the theatre of constructing novels However boredom is never going to be the best mainspring inspiration for the creation of a novel There wasn t nough contrast in the tone or thrust of the voices for me There was a sense veryone was hired to conform to a preconceived and adamant argument And as such there was no sense of discovery in the novel Beneath the surface of this novel is a current of unresolved bitterness belonging you sense to the author herself One of the novel s central premises is that Come Hell or High Water: Feminism and the Legacy of Armed Conflict in Central America every relationship is doomed to fail to become little than a distorting outline or as one character puts it there s a disgust thatxists indelibly between men and women and that you are always trying to purge with what you call frankness Frankly that s a melodramatic statement to me a distortion of perspective caused by unresolved bitterness And this bitterness left in its pure state prevents any possibility of Autobiography and Other Writings evolution Thus the novelnds as it begins with little sense of a meaningful journey with little resolution In short it s a novel that s much asier to admire than to love It s very well written with some truly brilliant observations it s intelligent it holds its focus It s also a novel that arouses the suspicion now and again that there might be a conceit involved the presence of the mperor s new clothes factor I Unbeatable Mind (3rd Edition): Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level (English Edition) eBook: Mark Divine: Amazon.fr: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. enjoyed reading it at the same time I have a feeling I ll remember nothing about it six months from now Damn you Rachel Cusk This book was absolutely infuriating As I was reading it I kept telling myself that I hated it And so I burned through it in a a little than 24 hours It bears little resemblance to any other novel I vever read The characters seem vague and unformed but they come through with periodic startling observations about life and human nature that hit me like a punch in the stomach The star system here on Goodreads is totally useless for this book Yeah it s probably completely useless for very book in truth but that s another discussion I gave it four stars What does that mean Nothing I hated it and loved it Full of wisdom and completely meaningless Irritating and boring but a page turner And just like the book my review makes no sense. Ures a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss Outline is Rachel Cusk’s finest work yet and one of the most startling brilliant and original novels of recent year.
Rachel Cusk was born in Canada and spent some of her childhood in Los Angeles before her family returned to England in 1974 when Cusk was 8 years old She read English at New College OxfordCusk is the Whitbread Award–winning author of two memoirs including The Last Supper and seven novels including Arlington Park Saving Agnes The Temporary The Country Life and The Lucky Ones She has