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Imbued … with Exigence

Christopher Tayler: Rachel Cusk, 22 September 2005

In the Fold 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, September 2005, 0 571 22813 5
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... Rachel Cusk recently wrote a piece for the Guardian describing her short-lived membership of a book group: ‘As if for the first time, I understood that reading is a private matter.’ Her co-readers’ inadequate responses to Chekhov provoke some grim reflections on the inadequacies of contemporary readers and writers ...

Why do I have to know what McDonald’s is?

Patricia Lockwood: Rachel Cusk takes off, 10 May 2018

Outline 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 249 pp., £8.99, May 2018, 978 0 571 34676 9
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Transit 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 260 pp., £8.99, May 2018, 978 0 571 34674 5
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Kudos 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 232 pp., £16.99, May 2018, 978 0 571 34664 6
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... The observation​ that some people do not like Rachel Cusk is so omnipresent in criticism of her work that it’s surprising no one’s ever led off a review with ‘I, too, dislike her.’ These observations are generally accompanied by photos or illustrations of her in which she looks at you both directly and flinchingly, almost always with a strand of hair in the centre of her forehead, with a smile somewhat like Edna O’Brien’s – another writer who seemed to rouse hatred for her disarranged hair as much as for her books, another writer who went to convent school ...

Clytemnestra in Brighton

Joanna Biggs: Rachel Cusk, 22 March 2012

Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 153 pp., £12.99, March 2012, 978 0 571 27765 0
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... On the cover of Aftermath, Rachel Cusk’s divorce memoir, there’s a drawing of a jigsaw. It’s the classic pattern, the one in which all the pieces – reaching out on two sides and sucked in on the others – are the same, and fit together at right angles. The book begins: ‘Recently my husband and I separated, and over the course of a few weeks the life that we’d made broke apart, like a jigsaw dismantled into a heap of broken-edged pieces ...

I blame Christianity

Jenny Turner: Rachel Cusk, 4 December 2014

Outline 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 249 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 0 571 23362 5
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... Chapter​ 6 of Rachel Cusk’s new novel takes place round a large square table at a creative writing course in Athens. The narrator asks each student in turn to tell a story. The fourth is told by a girl called Clio, who believes that every person has a ‘story of life’ with its own ‘themes and events ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... definition the authors aren’t following their own advice. A Life’s Work, the novelist Rachel Cusk’s account of her first year as a mother, offers a brisk corrective to Pearson’s maternal romanticism: ‘Looking after children is a low-status occupation. It is isolating, frequently boring, relentlessly demanding and exhausting. It erodes ...

Home’s for suicides

Lucie Elven: Alfred Hayes’s Hollywood, 18 July 2019

The Girl on the Via Flaminia 
by Alfred Hayes.
Penguin, 151 pp., £7.99, August 2018, 978 0 241 34232 9
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My Face for the World to See 
by Alfred Hayes.
Penguin, 119 pp., £7.99, May 2018, 978 0 241 34230 5
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In Love 
by Alfred Hayes.
Penguin, 120 pp., £7.99, January 2018, 978 0 241 30713 7
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... feelings in excess. Power, the abuse of it, and the emotions it creates masquerade as ‘love’. Rachel Cusk claimed that the book gives ‘an amazingly precise representation of what the world looks like if there’s no love in it’. The story is recounted to a woman at a bar: the narrator, again unnamed, describes another woman, with whom he had a ...

It isn’t your home

Toril Moi: Sarraute gets her due, 10 September 2020

Nathalie Sarraute: A Life Between 
by Ann Jefferson.
Princeton, 425 pp., £34, August, 978 0 691 19787 6
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... to bewitch me in the future: writers like W.G. Sebald, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Elena Ferrante and Rachel Cusk, and many others. These writers respond to a new craving for reality in literature, a new demand for emotional identification and for an immersion in the world proposed by a novel. Had I forgotten – or had I never noticed? – that Childhood is ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... directly in her play By the Bog of Cats (1998), which is set in a traveller community in Ireland. Rachel Cusk’s take on Euripides’ Medea, commissioned for the Almeida by Rupert Goold, bends the Greek play to fit the story she told in her memoir, Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation (reviewed by Joanna Biggs in the LRB of 22 March 2012). Here and ...

Mothers

Jacqueline Rose, 19 June 2014

The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women 
by Elisabeth Badinter, translated by Adriana Hunter.
Picador, 224 pp., £10.99, June 2013, 978 1 250 03209 6
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Are You My Mother? 
by Alison Bechdel.
Jonathan Cape, 304 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 224 09352 1
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A Child of One’s Own: Parental Stories 
by Rachel Bowlby.
Oxford, 256 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 0 19 960794 5
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Mothering and Motherhood in Ancient Greece and Rome 
by Lauren Hackworth Petersen and Patricia Salzman-Mitchell.
Texas, 274 pp., £16.99, April 2013, 978 0 292 75434 8
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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in 20th-Century England 
by Pat Thane and Tanya Evans.
Oxford, 240 pp., £24.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 968198 3
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I Don’t Know Why She Bothers: Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Womanhood 
by Daisy Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.99, July 2013, 978 0 297 86876 7
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... targeted women and mothers completely off the hook. ‘Parenthood is not a transition,’ Rachel Cusk writes in A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother, ‘but a defection, a political act.’ She is describing the way motherhood can leave women stranded on the far shore of any viable political life, but it’s also possible to read her sentence as ...

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