Outline by Rachel Cusk

IMG_3123“And of those two ways of living – living in the moment and living outside of it – which was the more real?”

Rachel Cusk’s Outline is best described as “a novel in ten conversations.”  It follows a writer named Faye on her trip to Athens where she is to teach a course in creative writing.  The novel consists of the conversations and outlines of lives of the people she meets and encounters.  Faye listens to the stories of others, sometimes challenging them, sometimes providing stories of her own.  It is philosophical in its thoughts and perceptions of life and love.

That’s all this novel is, a collection of conversations.  Rachel Cusk makes this work with wonderful writing and presents it in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking.  I found myself bookmarking many passages and stopping at times to really process the meaning and the feeling of what a character was expressing.  So many passages capture feelings that are all too relatable, and they are written and composed beautifully.  I enjoyed this slow stroll through Faye’s trip and the conversations throughout her journey.  This book is for those that like a slower pace, enjoy a good conversation and are okay with not having a distinct plot line.

“I felt that I could swim for miles, out into the ocean: a desire for freedom, an impulse to move, tugged at me as though it were a thread fastened to my chest.  It was an impulse I knew well, and I had learned that it was not the summons from a larger world I used to believe it to be.  It was simply a desire to escape from what I had.  The thread led nowhere, except into ever expanding wastes of anonymity.  I could swim out into the sea as far as I liked, if what I wanted was to drown.  Yet this impulse, this desire to be free, was still compelling to me: I still, somehow, believed in it, despite having proved that everything about it was illusory.”

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