Rachel Cusk has written a wonderfully subtle and beautifully controlled book that is among the best things I’ve read recently.
‘Outline’ is a novel in ten conversation narrated by a woman so apparently anonymous that we only learn her name is Faye, 200 plus pages into a book which is only 249 pages long.
Yet through each conversation, where Faye is often more the listener than the speaker, we begin to get a clear idea of who she is.
Her identity seems more definite than the men and women talking to her, who seem often to be telling half-truths in order to create an impression of who they want to be rather than truly are.
The story takes place mainly in Athens where Faye has journeyed to take a creative writing course. The choice of Greece seems far from accidental. It is both the cradle of western civilization and also the epicenter of the recent European financial meltdown. In other words, it is both the beginning and the potential end of Europe as a force in the world.
This fracturing and fragile Europe becomes the background for many of the conversations Faye then proceeds to have.
Each one reveals a world ever more full with people ever more distant from their own feelings and ever more concerned with surface.
A fascinating book that is the sort of novel that is worth re-reading.