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Monday, July 11, 2016

Outline by Rachel Cusk

This book was named as one of the five best fiction books of 2015.  It is a book that reads almost like a conversation.  The book is the definition of sparseness--it is succinct and it is sparsely written.   It is made up almost entirely of  eloquent and philosophical one-sided conversations that are so real that you can almost hear them in the room while you read them in your head. That is the gift of the writer, to be sure, to be able to transport the reader to that very state of realness.  If this novel were a film, it would be French. Someone, not always but usually a man, talks at length about himself while his companion, not always but usually a woman, listens attentively, only occasionally interjecting with a comment that is brief and perceptive. The talker takes that attention in his stride and makes use of its insights, though rarely reciprocates. Instead, he grows more voluble, while the listener quietly processes what is said.  And often what is said is so paradoxical and yet so believable as to make the listener fearful that something bad will happen, and the reader gets an insight into why the seemingly unintimidating can in fact be the surface under which violence seethes.  Unsettling but brilliant.

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