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message 1: by Louise, Group Founder (last edited Oct 29, 2016 04:55AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Louise | 680 comments Mod
First off massive apologies for the delay in getting this thread up. Have been ill (am now recovered)

So for everyone still with me, our October group read is Outline by Rachel Cusk .

Blurb (from waterstones website)
A woman arrives in Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course. Once there, she becomes the audience to a chain of narratives as the people she meets tell her one after another the stories of their lives. Beginning with the neighbouring passenger on the flight out and his tales of fast boats and failed marriages, the storytellers talk of their loves and ambitions and pains, their anxieties, their perceptions and daily lives. In the stifling heat and noise of the city the sequence of voices begins to weave a complex human tapestry: the experience of loss, the nature of family life, the difficulty of intimacy and the mystery of creativity itself.

Rachel Cusk
Rachel Cusk is a Canadian-born novelist and writer who lives and works in the United Kingdom. She is the author of eight novels and three works of non-fiction, including in 2012, a controversial biography of the break up of her marriage. She has won and been shortlisted for numerous prizes: with, Outline shortlisted for the Folio Prize the Goldsmiths Prize and the Baileys prize. In 2003, Rachel Cusk was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'.

Interesting links
Rachel Cusk: 'Aftermath was creative death. I was heading into total silence' (The Guardian)
Mummy Meanest: Can the most hated novelist in Britain redeem herself? (New Republic)

Professional Reviews for Outline
The Guardian
The Telegraph
The New York Times

message 2: by lethe (new)

lethe | 218 comments Glad you're feeling better!

Elena D | 3 comments Hi, how are you liking the book so far? I discovered it a few months ago in an old copy of the Paris Review where it was being published in four parts (in 2014 I think) and felt compelled to read the rest of the novel. I'd love to read everyone's thoughts and reviews:

Here is my review

And a few quotes I really liked from the novel.

"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."

"If love is what is held to make us immortal, hatred is the reverse."

"It marked some difference between him and me, in that he was observing something while I, evidently, was entirely immersed in being it. It was one of those moments, I said, that in retrospect have come to seem prophetic to me. And indeed, being so immersed, I did not notice that Paniotis went away from our encounter feeling that his life had been a failure, any more than the mountain notices the climber that loses his footing and falls down one of its ravines."

"He said, I am writing about my childhood. I was so happy as a child, he continued, and I realised a little while ago that there was nothing I wanted so much as to recall it piece by piece, with every possible detail. The world that happiness existed in has completely disappeared, not just in my own life but in Greece as a whole, for whether it knows it or not Greece is a country that is on its knees and dying a slow and agonising death."

"I replied that I wasn’t sure it was possible, in marriage, to know what you actually were, or indeed to separate what you were from what you had become through the other person. I thought the whole idea of a ‘real’ self might be illusory: you might feel, in other words, as though there were some separate, autonomous self within you, but perhaps that self didn’t actually exist."

message 4: by Louise, Group Founder (new) - rated it 2 stars

Louise | 680 comments Mod
Unpopular opinion time!

I thought it was well-written, but ultimately not a particularly good read. It felt very much like one of the pointless writing exercises the narrator gives her irritating students - an opportunity to examine what the narrator's story (or in this case conversations with other people) actually says about herself. And it did that very well. It's clever in the ways it gradually reveals things and it's at times very relatable (what woman hasn't had a dull man talk at them about themselves non-stop?) but it's not very satisfying for me as a novel. And I felt like (and obviously everything is filtered trough the narrator's perception, but even so) everybody spoke so similarly that they all sounded the same.

I can appreciate that objectively it is a good novel, but personally I wouldn't rate it higher than 'ok'. I don't dislike it at all, I enjoyed parts of it a lot, but as a whole I just feel pretty ambivalent.

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