This is book number 1 in the Outline Trilogy series.
Cusk's novel creates a beautiful character study by way of ten striking conversations. A writer ventures to Athens to teach a course and, while there, she meets a host of characters: writers, artists, friends, each with a unique and striking perspective on life, love, loss. Glorious!— Northshire Staff
A sharp novel with a chorus of vivid and wholly unique voices, Outline is unconcerned with narrative. Instead, in what reads as one long audition of potential characters for a future novel, Cusk weaves together a series of conversations between an incredibly observant narrator and the various people she meets on her trip to Greece to lead a writing workshop. The result is a sharp and devastating exploration of the inherent distance between people and the way personal storytelling informs how we relate to each other. — Gwyn Sise
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.