Outline by Rachel Cusk


A woman writer goes to Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course. Though her own circumstances remain indistinct, 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, the...

Details Outline

Release DateSep 4th, 2014
PublisherFaber & Faber
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Novels, Cultural, Greece

Reviews Outline

  • Beth
    Damn you, Rachel Cusk. This book was absolutely infuriating. As I was reading it, I kept telling myself that I hated it. And so, I burned through it in a a little more than 24 hours. It bears little resemblance to any other novel I've ever read. The characters seem vague and unformed, but they come through with periodic startling observations about life and human nature that hit me like a punch in the stomach. The "star system" here on Goodreads ...
  • Violet wells
    Reading Outline is like spying on an author in the process of auditioning characters for a future novel. In other words it is indeed an outline, an outline for a work that it still shadowy in the writer’s mind. Cusk interviews her potential characters and lets them tell her emotionally pivotal stories about themselves. She makes no other dramatic demands of them. They become like a Greek chorus of voices without a play. A writer, unnamed until ...
  • Julie Ehlers
    In Outline, a writer named Faye (perhaps not unlike Rachel Cusk herself) travels to Athens for a few days to lead a writing workshop. Along the way, she engages in conversations with several people--her seatmate on the plane, other teachers and students in the workshop, friends she meets up with, friends those friends have brought along, et cetera. Sometimes Faye listens to these people without comment, sometimes she challenges them, sometimes sh...
  • Julie Christine
    To call this a novel would seem to restrict it to a convention of style, to set up expectations of narrative rhythm and form. Outline, so aptly named, is a sketchbook of lives, charcoal drawings of souls captured in profile.The book is series of conversations delivered with a twanging chord of tension and self-interest. Or really, it's a collection of confessions delivered to a listener who reciprocates only rarely; she is an ear, an eye, a filte...
  • Jaidee
    5 “pristine, refreshing, clear” stars. 2016 Bronze Award - Third Favorite Read (Tie) I am a man that resides in the world of emotion. They are here with me always and are always acute, not in the background. Emotions often make me soar to the heavens or shiver in delight, but other times they make me flounder, weigh me down like the experience of walking in the cold snow with a hole in my boot that leaves my precious foot frigid and lonely.I ...
  • Joseph Burgess
    Rachel Cusk is obviously a writer of tremendous talent, and "Outline" doesn't hide her skills.But I found this book to be lacking. The premise, on its face, is interesting: a series of conversations the narrator has with people she meets on her week in Athens that helps show the wide disparity of "outlines" and shapes of people's lives. It sounds existential and philosophical and hip and like half of all of the other novels that are coming out ri...
  • Justin Evans
    My wife used to read the TLS 'books of the year' edition and use it to choose books she wanted to get. Then, one fateful year, everyone recommended a certain book; she purchased it in expensive hardcover, read it in a day, and was completely flummoxed. The book was garbage. What to make of this? She decided that the U.K. publishing scene is so small and (her word) incestuous that they just read the same five books and then talked about them for a...
  • Joachim Stoop
    Rather 4,25.Phew, this is something else! There is some of the best writing in it, but because of the lack of story AND abundancy of stories it was a tough read. There is at the same time nothing and too much going on. It is a rather new and fresh take on storytelling (altough it reminded me of Jenny Offill, Valeria Luiselli, Miranda July and especially Ben Lerner). It is so dense and deep that you really have to stay 100% concentrated all the ti...
  • Diane Barnes
    This is a difficult book to review because of its strange nature. Not really a novel in terms of plot (there really isn't one), it is instead an account of conversations with others, mostly strangers, involving a recently divorced mother of two sons who has come to Athens for a few days to teach a writing course. As she recounts these conversations and their settings, a few facts from her own circumstances emerge.This doesn't sound like much to b...
  • Blair
    Nothing much really happens in Outline. A writer, Faye, goes to Athens to teach an English-language writing workshop. She befriends the man sitting next to her on the plane, who tells her of his failed marriages. The stories Faye hears - from this man, from her co-teacher, from her students and friends - make up the narrative, and in between we learn a little of her own life. So it's not terribly eventful, and there certainly isn't a plot, but th...
  • Rebecca Foster
    I read the first 66 pages before setting this aside. I didn’t dislike the writing; I even found it quite profound in places, but there’s not enough story to peg such philosophical depth on. This makes it the very opposite of unputdownable. Last year I read the first few pages of Cusk’s Aftermath, about her divorce, and found it similarly detached. In general I just think her style doesn’t connect with me. I’m unlikely to pick up another...
  • Frona
    To live as a detection device in the middle of a busy street is a legitimate choice - and a tempting one to make. To observe the world as it leisurely unfolds without your interference means to avoid the difficulties of constant selection. If you are just a passive receiver, all bits of the ceaseless flow of information fit your narrative; there's no need to shape them in accordance with your purposes. In exchange for cohesion you get all kinds o...
  • Gumble's Yard
    Like many others of my Goodreads friends, I re-read just ahead of the publication of the concluding book of the trilogy which this book commenced. My original review of this and the second volume Transit is below – on this reading I enjoyed finding quotes which summarised for me either Rachel Cusk’s underlying technique in writing the trilogy, or the choice of title for this first volume. There was so little interface between inside and outsi...
  • Teresa
    3.5I’ve been reading a lot of late-19th-century writing and something told me to take at least a short break, so I requested this from the library. While its prose is intelligent and impressive, I thought of abandoning the book early on. Eventually the structure, which is its main element, grew on me. To fully understand the meaning behind the structure (and the title), you need to read to the end. The narrator—referenced by name once only—...
  • Claudia
    Rachel Cusk já é escreveu nove romances, mas só agora conheci o trabalho da autora com o primeiro livro de uma trilogia recentemente lançado pela Quetzal. Em 2003 foi escolhida pela Granta como uma das melhores jovens romancistas. Na altura tinha apenas 37 anos. Recebeu com este romance rasgados elogios pelos vários meios de comunicação e críticos literários. Foi finalista do Prémio Baileys em 2015.'Se passar algum tempo a ler este roma...
  • Caitlin
    Joan Didion once wrote that "we tell ourselves stories in order to live." Rachel Cusk's "Outline" illustrates this love of storytelling. The narrator of the book, a woman writer from England, tells the stories of all the people she encounters, beginning with a man she meets on a flight to Greece and continuing with all the various acquaintances she meets in the country where she is teaching a writing course for a few days. The book consists entir...
  • Conor
    A tactic familiar with professions as diverse as interrogators, lawyers, and psychologists is to resist the polite urge to fill silences with small talk, to refrain from being your conversation partner's crutch, in the hope that the other guy will be sufficiently destabilized by the solecism to overcompensate with his own palaver. Interrogators hope to get access to secret, front-of-mind information; attorneys seek an uncharacterized narrative; p...
  • Brian
    Like watching paint dry without the action of having paint run down the wall. This felt like reading a languid MFA paper by the precocious pet student. Forced to read this because Paris Review in its infinite wisdom published the novel over four issues in 2013-2014. I stopped reading in the third installment.
  • Lee
    Seemed too soft for me at first, kept thinking it was pillowy, aerated, possibly thanks to the large type and space between lines and comfortable margins of the paperback I read. It's probably a 165-page double-spaced manuscript at most, formatted to 249 easily turned pages, a good idea on the part of the publisher to accelerate a reader's progress since it's not plot-driven at all and only over time does the outline of the narrator, her history ...
  • Doug
    Update, 4/25/18: I'm rereading Cusk's first two volumes of her trilogy in eager anticipation of concluding it with a recently received ARC of Kudos, the final volume. Oddly enough, this time I had no such problem (as with the initial time) getting into the book - in fact I read the first 100 pages in a single sitting, and finished the entire book within a 24 hour period. I still found myself re-reading passages, but rather than seeing this as a d...
  • Holly
    It's meandering, and subtle, and subtextual. I liked Outline so much more once I'd jettisoned the audiobook and settled down with the printed words so that I could read slowly, re-read, circle back. I haven't read Cusk's Aftermath, her memoir about her divorce, but apparently she kicked up a real shitstorm with it, and this oblique fictional experiment is a result of that. It's a sequence of linked conversations with a female character - who is n...
  • Amanda
    Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Our MC Faye, is a writer on her way to Greece to teach a week-long writing seminar. Along the way she has conversations with her seatmate who lives in Greece and she ends up going sailing with, fellow teachers and old friends. This is a captivating story with not much plot. I know that sounds contradictory but it is. I couldn't put this down it was a fascinating look into Faye's life and ultimately her gri...
  • Camille Chidsey
    Decent writing but blah blah blah life lessons. Wait, am I asleep? I think I am....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  • jo
    this is a book that should be read at least twice. i mean this in all seriousness. but i'm not going to read it twice because i am pretty much unable to read books twice unless i have a gun to my head, so this review will be at best superficial, at worst worthless and misleading. please do believe me. in this highly original, genre-defying novel, an english writer who has traveled to athens, greece, to teach a class on writing (you see the layers...
  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    I enjoyed this book a lot as I was reading it - but I honestly can't remember precisely what I liked or, really, much of what I read. I know I liked the writing; there's an elegance to it and to the slow, careful unlayering of the characters' thoughts and motivations as they tell the narrator the stories of their lives (or pieces of them). We never really get to know anyone - even tho' they are sharing masses of details, many many words, about so...
  • Laurie
    I've never read anything like this. At first I didn't like it much, but toward the end I had trouble putting it down. You end up considering the world from the intimate pov of the dozens of strangers in the story, and admiring Cusk's technique, intelligence and curiosity.
  • Teresa Proença
    Na badana e contracapa desta edição, existem algumas daquelas frases jornalísticas que tentam um leitor a comprar o livro. Não foi bem o meu caso, que já me defendo deste tipo de aliciamento - e também porque o "pobre" tem no Goodreads um rating de 3.44. Mas ofereceram-mo e há que ser agradecida. E não é que os críticos dos Independent, New York Times, Observer,... têm razão?«Rachel Cusk quebra todas as regras.»«Um romance letalmen...
  • Sub_zero
    La novela de Rachel Cusk es con toda seguridad uno de los libros más originales, inteligentes y provocadores que he leído en lo que va de año. A pesar de su aparente sencillez y brevedad, tanto la idea de la que parte como su ejecución me parecen asombrosas y brillantes a partes iguales. Bien pensado, quizá es precisamente esta simplicidad narrativa lo que permite destacar a las magníficas reflexiones que elabora Cusk sobre las relaciones h...
  • Gerhard
    What a curious, odd and elliptical novel. I am unsure if the word ‘novel’ even applies in this instance. Anti-novel seems more like it; we only learn the name of the mysterious narrator at 84% of the ebook, who is solely defined by the conversations and interactions she has with those around her, from a man she sits next to on a plane to students in a writing class in Greece.In Chapter X, the writing teacher who supplants the narrator recount...