Outline by Rachel Cusk

Outline

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

TitleOutline
ISBN9780571233625
Author
Release DateSep 4th, 2014
PublisherFaber & Faber
LanguageEnglish
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Novels, Cultural, Greece
Rating

Reviews Outline

  • Beth
    2015-02-24
    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
    2015-05-05
    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
    2014-03-16
    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...
  • Elyse Walters
    2018-08-20
    The protagonist is a British novelist, who goes to Greece for one week, to teach creative writing. She, *Faye*, is divorced, and has 2 sons who stayed back in London.That’s about all we know of her for awhile. Actually we never learned her name until late in the book. We are slowly piecing together stories about Faye. The uniqueness of this novel is cerebral and gorgeous.Before the narrator even arrives in Athens, she engages in an intriguing-i...
  • William2
    2019-01-07
    Mellifluous with a beautifully honed thematic core. The tone nimbly alternates between black despair and forlornness and subtle humor. If E.M. Forster excelled at intrusive narrators, always commenting on events, Rachel Cusk’s narrator here might be called unintrusive for the way she hangs back and let’s others speak. One of the walking wounded herself, her damage manifests itself in a kind of unquestioning passivity. She’s going through th...
  • Kalliope
    2019-02-03
    Although I've read this in English I thought that the title for the Spanish translation suited the novel better then the original. Contraluz, that translates literally as 'backlighting' but whose meaning is something like 'against the light' fitted better this novel in which an English woman, who travels to Athens to teach writing to Greek pupils, leaves behind a shaded world to face her life and herself against the Aegean sun.This novel is loade...
  • Jaidee
    2016-03-24
    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 ...
  • Adam Dalva
    2019-05-30
    Staggeringly unique in its simplicity. Essentially a series of interactions over a week-long trip to Greece where the lead is teaching a writing class: the characters are so rich, yet so contained - and the lead's character was at once the most interesting and the most invisible. I dug through the the text for information about her, frustrated and thrilled that her interlocutors (even a random stranger from an airplane) knew more about her life's...
  • Julie Christine
    2015-12-03
    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...
  • Paula Kalin
    2019-03-31
    3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Justin Evans
    2015-03-14
    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...
  • Joseph Burgess
    2015-01-29
    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...
  • Gumble's Yard
    2017-01-06
    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...
  • Bianca
    2019-07-05
    4 - 4.5I've been meaning to read Cusk for a few years, after hearing, seeing and reading raving reviews for her latest three books in a series, of which Outline is the first. The black and white covers using Man Ray's photography got stuck in my head. (not this cover).This is a plotless novel made up of conversations with a variety of people - a Greek man who had been divorced three times, a publisher, writers, writing course students and a few o...
  • Rebecca
    2017-04-29
    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...
  • Diane Barnes
    2017-03-27
    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...
  • Joachim Stoop
    2015-10-06
    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...
  • Blair
    2014-10-02
    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...
  • Roger Brunyate
    2018-08-08
     Antimatter He was describing, in other words, what she herself was not: in everything he said about himself, she found in her own nature a corresponding negative. This anti-description, for want of a better way of putting it, had made something clear to her by a reverse kind of exposition: while he talked she began to see herself as a shape, an outline, with all the detail filled in around it while the shape itself remained blank. Yet this shap...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-02-03
    Hardly anything happens in this book but I really enjoyed reading the conversations and insights about life and connection, and the setting is pretty great too. Some of those are marked from the Kindle version I read.It's funny, I saw a review for this in Publishers Weekly back in 2014, and I would pick it up at the library and look at it and always decide not to read it. It was hard to understand the point. Then several reading friends with good...
  • Trish
    2018-08-10
    The third volume of the trilogy of which Outline is first is what introduced me to Cusk. I am kind of astonished I’ve not been badgered about her constantly—she is so funny, so illuminating, so exacting. My enthusiasm for Kudos prompted GR friends to insist I read the three-books-in-one so I picked up Outline.I’m pleased I read the third book first. It is even better than the first by orders of magnitude, though I’d feared I’d begin to ...
  • Frona
    2017-05-20
    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...
  • Teresa
    2018-05-21
    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—...
  • Roman Clodia
    2018-12-19
    Extraordinary - review to come tomorrow.------------------------------------In Book 3 of his Metamorphoses, Ovid retells the stories of Narcissus and Echo (joined for the first time, I think, by Ovid) and it was this dual story that kept pulsing through my mind while reading Outline: issues of narcissism and self-abnegation, of mirrors and reflections, of voices and gender and appearing/disappearing bodies (the latter female) form a subtle, allus...
  • Brian
    2015-01-11
    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
    2017-06-02
    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
    2016-11-03
    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...
  • Lee
    2014-11-26
    “We never, I think, discovered the true nature of the things we saw, any more than we were ever in danger of being affected by them; we peered at them, at people and places, like people on a ship peer at the passing mainland, and should we have seen them in any kind of trouble, or they us, there would have been nothing whatever either one of us could have done about it.”(This is a pretty old review revised to add a star - I’ve since read th...