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Outline: A Novel Kindle Edition
Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged, Import
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About the Author
"Mesmerising" (New Yorker)
"Brilliant…absorbing, thought-provoking" (Evening Standard)
"Rachel Cusk breaks all the rules... Outline captivates" (Independent)
"If life were fair, Rachel Cusk would win every prize going for Outline " (Julie Myerson Observer)
"Winter bouquets should be offered to the clever and stylish Rachel Cusk: her novel Outline is smoothly accomplished, and fascinating both on the surface and in its depths" (Hilary Mantel Guardian)
"Outline succeeds powerfully. Among other things, it gets a great variety of human beings down on to the page with both immediacy and depth; an elemental pleasure that makes the book as gripping to read as a thriller… A stellar accomplishment" (James Lasdun Guardian)
"A clever thought experiment that’s far too readable ever to feel like one" (Sunday Times)
"A piece of work of great beauty and ambition. Narratives are smoothed, as if by translation and retranslation, into their simplest, barest elements: parents, children, divorces, cakes, dresses, dogs. These elements then build, layer on layer, to form the most complex and exquisitely detailed patterns, swirling and whirling, wheels within wheels" (London Review of Books)
"Cool but compelling, narrow in focus perhaps, but deep in thought" (Scotsman) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- File size : 364 KB
- Print length : 258 pages
- Publisher : Faber & Faber (1 May 2018)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- ASIN : B07B453M8Q
- Language: : English
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #60,476 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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“Outline” is a story of ten conversations – ten different plot lines, ten lives and a woman at the core of it. The story is of a novelist and the people she meets, the stories she gathers, what people confide in her and tell her – their hopes, regrets, fantasies, anxieties and longings. It is all about life from a vantage point come to think of it. The crux though lies in the novelist’s own life – her losses and gains and how she comes to terms with all of it.
The execution of the book is brilliant. The ideas are stupendous -the fact that all of them find their way and space in the book says a lot about the author’s craft. Cusk’s writing style may seem random at times but it isn’t. Cusk makes you see the world bit by bit, layer by layer, as if an orange is being peeled. She doesn’t jump into incidents or facts of people’s lives. She takes time to introduce them to the reader and the reader is then taking his or her time getting familiar with them. The human details are spread out beautifully over ten lives and the narrator’s of course, that you only end up in awe at the end of this wondrous read.
The book reads like a collection of Shorts, instead of one entity & the only entity binding it is the protagonist, the eyes and ears of the book; about whom we know fairly little through the book. And whom we end up probably understanding the least, keeping the mystery alive and making us want to read the next book in line.
"This anti-description, for want of a better way of putting it, had made something clear to her by a reverse kind of exposition: while he talked she began to see herself as a shape, an outline, with all the detail filled in around it while the shape itself remained blank. Yet this shape, even while its content remained unknown, gave her for the first time since the incident a sense of who she now was."
___ "But his own mother had once said to him, in the period after his first marriage had ended when he was deeply concerned about the effect the divorce was having on the children, that family life was bittersweet no matter what you did. If it wasn’t divorce it would be something else, she said. There was no such thing as an unblemished childhood, though people will do everything they can to convince you otherwise. There was no such thing as a life without pain. And as for divorce, even if you lived like a saint you would still experience all the same losses, however much you tried to explain them away. I could weep just to think that I’ll never see you again as you were at the age of six – I would give anything, she said, to meet that six-year-old one more time. But everything falls away, try as you might to stop it. And for whatever returns to you, be grateful."
Top reviews from other countries
I read it on holiday and hated it. I persisted but it really put me in a bad mood. I found myself getting wound up by minor things like Cusk’s repeated use of the word ‘bitterer’ instead of ‘more bitter’ for example, and she also seems to think Ireland is part of the British Isles, which wound me up further. The characters have little to redeem them, there is no plot and it comes across as quite vain and narcissistic.
I really wanted to like this, given the number of recommendations in the papers and on Twitter, but I can only assume that the author’s friends have written them.
The first two male characters are nameless. The first she refers to as the ‘billionaire’ the second who features predominately, is referred to as the ‘neighbough’. The billionaire has lunch with the narrator and completely outlines his life story — not leaving time to discuss the literary magazine he was thinking of starting up. The ‘neighbough,' who she initially sits next to on the aeroplane, tells the narrator his complete life story from his schooling to his failed marriages. He then later goes on to make a clumsy pass at her aboard his boat during the second of their two rendezvous.
The first named character is Ryan, another writer who is teaching alongside her at the summer school. Ryan comes across as an unlikeable character. Cusk achieves this by describing how he chooses to walk on the inside of the pavement, whilst explaining he doesn't want to be a road casualty statistic — leaving the narrator to walk on the busy roadside. He also shares his life story whilst leering at a young waitress, then justify’s himself by announcing ‘my wife eyeballs the fellas.’ Cusk (2015,p.45) Ryan later finds the narrators friend Elena attractive, but quickly makes his excuses to leave when he hears they are meeting Melete a pre-eminent lesbian poet.
The next character to open up to the narrator is divorced Paniotis. An old writer friend quickly followed by Angeliki, a successful author. Angeliki sees herself as a spokesperson for suffering womanhood, but ironically claims she is afraid when traveling to new and familiar cities without her husband. Both discuss distancing relations with their children. The narrators own children only contact her fleetingly when they want something. Cusk writes about a few of the students at the summer school who vary in personality and neuroses.
Cusk demonstrates that the narrator is a judgemental and unfriendly character when she writes ‘it was this eccentricity that had made me answer him’ Cusk (2015,p.6) implying that if the ‘neighbough’ wasn't eccentric she would have refused to answer him. The narrator is a contrarian and doesn't hold back voicing her thoughts on other peoples lives. She is sharp and intelligent and judges conversation as though she is critiquing a book. ‘I remained dissatisfied by the story…lacked objectivity…relied too heavily on extremes…the moral properties it ascribed to those extremes were often incorrect.’ Cusk (2015,p.29) This demonstrates the narrator takes things literally when listening to dialogue and constantly looks for flaws and consequently finds them. The narrator is a woman of few spoken words and appears to have a mystical presence that when people meet her they openly share their life story. Allowing the narrator to judge their stories for preciseness and bias.
Throughout Outline there is a strong theme of failed relationships. Cusk, an author and divorcee wrote Aftermath (2012) a controversial book detailing her own separation and divorce which received much criticism. Previously Cusk wrote A life's work (2001) a frank and honest book about her becoming a mother. Outline seems to be somewhat of an amalgamation of these concepts, maybe hinting at an autobiographical element. Cusk certainly seems to have written what she knows and the reflective and argumentative side of the narrator is of no surprise when armed with this knowledge.
As a writer I find Cusk has bravely laid out her soul in her books and I am surprised that this has not left her feeling exposed or vulnerable. I hesitate as to whether I could dare to do the same. Sharing a short poem of brutal-inner honesty, is just about cringingly manageable. Someone reading an entire novel of me philosophically musing about my relationships, and their total and utter failure is like being stood nailed, and naked on a brightly lit church pulpit. Could I?
The narrator only gradually comes into being as the stories other tell bounce off her, creating the 'outline' of the title. Flawless writing, hypnotic reading.
Reading this suggested that one of the reasons why was that I found her characters less than believable insofar as their conversations, their willingness to discuss their lives and their mistakes, so very articulately, never rang true. Throughout the book I was aware of reading a novel - a very well-observed and beautifully-written novel - written by someone who revels in doing so, but whose failure to create believable scenarios forever felt like an exercise in doing so, rather than creating a world her characters inhabited.