OutlineOutline by Rachel Cusk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A kind of experiment in the erasure of the conventional trappings of fiction – plot, suspense, character, identity. Cusk has thought hard about the building blocks of the novel and has tried to pull most of them out. What’s left are outlines of people’s lives, observed and recorded by a narrator whose life and personality are outlined by those other lives and their stories. The book is upfront about its method, and its themes emerge naturally from it – the comparison and contrast between the people in the novel suggest the relational way we think about ourselves, as well as the difficulty of bridging the fundamental difference between individuals (particularly women and men in heterosexual relationships). The book sums this up in its very last lines, where a character confuses “solitude” for “solicitude”, capturing the twin fates we face when trying to understand each other.

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