A luminous, powerful novel that establishes Rachel Cusk as one of the finest writers in the English language
A man and a woman are seated next to each other on a plane. They get to talking - about their destination, their careers, their families. Grievances are aired, family tragedies discussed, marriages and divorces analyzed. An intimacy is established as two strangers contrast their own fictions about their lives.
Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during one oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner and discourse. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.
Outline takes a hard look at the things that are hardest to speak about. It brilliantly captures conversations, investigates people's motivations for storytelling, and questions their ability to ever do so honestly or unselfishly. In doing so it bares the deepest impulses behind the craft of fiction writing. This is Rachel Cusk's finest work yet and one of the most startling, brilliant, original novels of recent years.
©2015 Rachel Cusk (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
In the middle, yet I'm still giving it a higher rating than that. I guess that's why I'm calling it odd.
I didn't expect a resolved ending and didn't get one.
Beautiful, elegant diction, she was a pleasure to listen to.
No, but yet it was compelling.
This is a book of conversations, not action. At times it seemed blah blah blah, but I never stopped listening ... probably because it was beautifully written & narrated and intensely interesting sometimes, but not all the time. It also had moments of truth & clarity for me.
I struggled with the narrator's voice & inflections such that I couldn't relax and "get into the book". Might be worth reading rather than listening.
Every character went on and on with their stories and opinions. There never seemed to be a point. I don't even know why it was called Outline. I fell asleep at the end and it is too boring to go back and listen to it.
A different reader would have made all the difference in my enjoyment of this book. Kate Reading's voice was sing-song, staccato and had a generally annoying resonance. I am returning this Audible book after listening to an hour of it (my first return out of many, many Audible books) and will read the hard copy. The story itself seems like it could be very good.
Because I am not a big fan of heavily plotted books, I looked forward to reading this essentially (and intentionally) plotless novel. My reaction to it went from admiration and astonishment to impatience, annoyance, and boredom. It reminded me a little of the film My Dinner With Andre in that everything is second and third hand. Characters we don't really care about tell stories about characters we never meet to a narrator who is more guide than developed person. At one point I drifted off for five minutes. I started to go back to replay and thought, "Why bother? The chapter will end and I'll never meet this character again."
The writing is spectacularly polished and elegant and precise, without being remotely precious. The insights into love and relationships and all manner of behavior are stunning and gorgeously phrased. But ultimately, I wearied of the stories within stories and the passing parade of talkative characters.
Cusk is obviously masterful and brilliant. She knows what she's doing, I just ended up not being interested in it. This might be better on the page, but I don't feel like investing the time.The authority of her prose makes me want to read another, more traditional, of her novels.
Kate Reading is a pro (her name alone!) and she handles the difficult material well. The book is set in Greece and she manages a range of accents without going overboard.
I wish I could give this 2.5 as an overall experience. I did, after all, finish it.
This book is mainly monologues by self-absorbed women afflicted by unsatisfactory men. I found it insubstantial and irritating. Ms Cusk's reputation is much more substantial than this work would support, so I regret that this has been my first acquaintance with her writing. I fear that I will not approach her again.
Her writing skills and the words she chose to express herself (but did not like the story itself).
Generally this book was about a teacher going to Greece to teach and involves the people the met and her students. Rachel's writing was detail oriented but mostly focused on either neutral or gloom observances.
I'm confessing that I only listened to this while driving, on several different trips. But it never caught me long enough to listen in between.
I am sensitive to voices. Not attracted to this one, but not annoyed by her either.
Disappointing, but might have just been me. Can't even tell you much about it.
The Girl on the Train, a new thriller that has been getting a lot of buzz, is narrated by three women. Rachel Watson, the main character, is a divorced, childless alcoholic still clinging to her ex-husband, Tom. Afraid to tell her landlady that she has been fired, Rachel rides the train into London every day, pretending to go to work. The train just happens to go past her former house, where Tom now lives with his new wife and daughter. Rachel becomes obsessed with an attractive couple who live a few doors down the street; she watches them from the train, fantasizing about the perfect life she believes they have. Obviously an unreliable narrator (she has frequent blackouts), Rachel is the most intriguing of the women in the story. The other narrators are Tom's new wife, Anna, who fears that Rachel will do something crazy, and Megan Hipwell, the young woman idealized by Rachel. The crime line takes off when Megan goes missing, and Rachel thinks she may know something important . . . if only she could remember what. She becomes as obsessed with the case as she has been with Tom and the Hipwells, and the reader is left to guess what is real and what is imagined.
I don't usually read thrillers, but this one got a lot of hype, so I thought I'd give it a try. Initially, I was caught up in the story, but by the end, it seemed to drag on, driven by far too many coincidences.
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