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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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... RachelCusk 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 ...

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 RachelCusk 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 ...

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, RachelCusk’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 ...

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 RachelCusk’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 ...

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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... like Pearson herself? The paradox of books by mothers disparaging the fast-track life is that almost by definition the authors aren’t following their own advice. A Life’s Work, the novelist RachelCusk’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 ...

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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... restaurant. Where My Face for the World to See documents an absence of feeling, In Love gives us feelings in excess. Power, the abuse of it, and the emotions it creates masquerade as ‘love’. RachelCusk 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 ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Medea

3 December 2015
... Toni Morrison, who slants the myth through her novel Beloved (1987), as does Marina Carr more directly in her play By the Bog of Cats (1998), which is set in a traveller community in Ireland. RachelCusk’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 ...

Mothers

Jacqueline Rose

18 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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... failures.3 This has the added advantage of letting a government whose austerity policy has disproportionately targeted women and mothers completely off the hook. ‘Parenthood is not a transition,’ RachelCusk 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 ...

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