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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Review: Outline

Outline - Rachel Cusk


I picked up Outline because and only because I've heard Cusk's name being dropped as a potential Man Booker Prize contender this year. If she is nominated, it will be for her newest novel, Kudos; but as her newest is the third in a trilogy, I did not want to find myself already two books behind when the longlist drops. So I thought I'd get a head start... just in case.


Man Booker Prize nominated books can come in many varieties, but it's not uncommon for the list to have several titles that are intelligent and/or relatively dry. The latter can be difficult for some, but more often than not, I enjoy them despite being slow. I cannot speak for Kudos as I have yet to read it, but man, oh man isOutline boring. I can see why some might think Cusk would be a welcome nominee. If Kudos were nominated, I'd read it, as I didn't dislike Outline or the style Cusk used to bring her story together—it was just abysmally dry.


Outline is the story of stories. It's about an author interacting with people in Athens, and telling their stories. But her stories are more like an outline of these characters. There's not much to them. They're not the most interesting stories, but I'm sure they're some kind of a reflection of the author herself. Who am I kidding? This book was so uneventful. There's beauty of words and a certain strong realism to the dialogue, but it lacks plot and character. Still, some people love it. LOVE IT. And I say kudos to them. Personally, I think I missed something, but I'd be willing to give it another go.