Transit

Transit

Book - 2017
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"The stunning second novel of a trilogy that began with Outline, one of The New York Times Book Review's ten best books of 2015 In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions--personal, moral, artistic, practical--as she endeavors to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life. Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility, and the mystery of change. In this precise, short, and yet epic cycle of novels, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language toward it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one's life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real. "--
"Sequel to Rachel Cusk's Outline"--
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017
Edition: First American edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780374278625
0374278628
Branch Call Number: F Cus

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i
Indoorcamping
Apr 09, 2019

This is like attending a dinner party where you don't know anyone, the rest of the guests are talking about people you don't know, and they all seem to be philosophy professors who have just returned from a writer's conference. Rachel Cusk has this style where, once you dig in, you are transformed, but it's not like reading a plot-driven or even character-driven structured piece of writing. There are events, there are characters, they have conversations - lots and lots of them - they do things, they get into situations and sometimes - but not often - get out of situations - and they don't pop up again so you are left wondering what the hell happened to them?

Not unlike when people who think so well of their intelligence and wit that they have to share their thoughts with everyone who is within five feet of them, regardless of interest or effect on the poor listener. And like those shared intellectual thoughts, you think to yourself, "hmm," but you forget about it after five minutes and avoid that person again the rest of the night if you can help it.

Also, when people talk about people you don't know, it's annoying. You know more about people you will never meet than the person standing in front of you, and you don't know how their situations resolves, if it does. You only know this one person's perspective on another person's situation, that person's situation at that time in their life, and you certainly don't know the full story because the person gossiping only knows what they know. So you end up also trying to get out of that conversation because who wants to hear about people in difficult situations unless there's some point to it all?

So it's a Rachel Cusk original. If you like her writing, you will enjoy it, mostly. Especially about the remodeling, the upheaval in life during life's transitions and breakdowns, but not especially about the writer's conference stuff - that was done to perfection in "Outline" and perhaps even better in "Kudos." The writer's storyline in this book it isn't particularly as delicious and compelling. Or, maybe it is just that it isn't in an exotic place with interesting, unusual well-thought through characters. In fact, quite the opposite: rain, rather than sun, gloomy, kind of belligerent or shaken/traumatized characters in unenjoyable, almost pitiable circumstances.

l
lukasevansherman
Jan 17, 2019

"It was possible, I had realised, to resist evil, but in doing so you acted alone. You stood or fell as an individual."
The second novel in Rachel Cusk's "Outline" trilogy. I don't much about Cusk, other than she's British and writes really good books, but I've really liked the two books I've read of hers. It's not very plot driven, as some have noted, but neither is life. Cusk has a very subtle, very precise style that is the opposite of so much lazy modern prose, and has a lot of insights, which sounds corny, but it's not when you read it. This review sucks, but this book is great. Followed by "Kudos."
New Yorker interview: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/i-dont-think-character-exists-anymore-a-conversation-with-rachel-cusk

j
Jane_Sm
May 16, 2018

An intelligent and insightful writer, but I found her prose style dense and unapproachable. Perhaps more appropriate for winter reading than springtime!

h
harrissusanc
Aug 23, 2017

A woman looking to settle in London runs into her ex and tries to adjust to new surroundings. Couldn't put the first hundred pages down, and then Cusk drops the thread. More novel like than the first, will the last in the trilogy follow suite?

p
pipersage
Aug 15, 2017

Found this tedious, maybe for lack of a plotline. It felt like the author was just narrating events in one person's day. Relieved when it was over.

x
xiaojunbpl12
Jul 23, 2017

I've come to harmonious ease (since "Outline") with her outward ramblings (still, dialog format occasionally bothers me) constantly shaken by inward restraint.

The effect maybe personal, whether to live life in a slow-bleeding-to-death fatalism or a fantastical plot full of contrivances.

Like "Outline", both books are inspiring for writers(-to-be), as if I could come up with remarkable materials from seemingly insignificant experience.

p
pennys54
Jul 04, 2017

Wonderful prose

s
spiderfelt_0
Jun 11, 2017

What a bittersweet feeling to finish. I've loved every minute spent w/ the transitory people filing the pages of Transit. There is so much to ponder here. It is rich with meaning, filled with both observation and insight that bears rereading.

l
laphampeak
May 29, 2017

An insightful novel - more of a thinking realm than a physical one. As the main character is renovating the inside of her new house she is also looking at relationships and friends and their internal past and present.

d
dialectic3746
Mar 07, 2017

From a New York Review article by Claire Messud: “Cusk, in this interview, speaks of frustration with the novel form, and of a concomitant sense that her autobiographical forays were finished, even though “I’m certain autobiography is increasingly the only form in all the arts. Description, character—these are dead or dying in reality as well as in art,” she said. As a writer, her response was to forge a new form for her work, a sort of semiautobiographical novel in which the first-person narrator is largely absent or erased, serving chiefly as the recorder of the lives—or more accurately, the stories of the lives—of others.”

My note to her about Transit: I read Cusk’s Transit and your review in that order. Your description of Transit’s content is right on, but for some reason I’m uncomfortable with your praise of the novel or ‘semiautobiographical novel.’ Consequently, I’ve been thinking about my reactions as I read Transit.

Here goes. Form. Through my reading I felt as if Faye were a docent in a museum guiding me through the different galleries. What we were viewing were each of the characters in Transit. Or maybe Faye wasn’t there at all and I was wearing the headphones to the recorded observations of the different characters. I would push the button and be ‘dazzled’ by the over-the-top philosophical meanderings.

Content. When in front of a character (maybe a Jeff Koons fiberglass rendering), I would push the button and eavesdrop on these philosophical-like musings, however mundane the subject matter. I found myself quietly laughing at times, at others, saying out loud “What!” I would then put the book down and go do something else. It’s was like I wanted to get away from these people who were not real, almost like virtual creations of stilted amusement.

Yes, Cusk writes well but this latest attempt to break through her own self is disappointing.

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