Review: Outline

Outline by Rachel Cusk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully composed. Mesmerizing. Vague.

A writer travels to Greece to teach a week long writing course. She dines with friends, listens to her students, goes boating with her seatmate from the plane. In each interaction, the narrator listens as the others spin out their tales, truthful or not. None of them seem to recognize that anything that has happened in their lives or relationships could be their own responsibility.

The narrator reveals little of herself. Initially, it seems that everyone she meets is a self-absorbed lout, blabbing on and asking her nothing. We don’t learn much about her; (we get a few details children, a mortgage, a melancholy).

Partway through, another character says:
“What he thinks is of no importance. . . If I found out more about what he thinks, I might start to confuse him with myself.”

It is almost that she is drawing them each out and sharing very little of herself on purpose, even though they are, mostly, not very pleasant company, because she is in a time of her life in which she has lost herself.

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