A Novel

eBook - 2017
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The stunning new novel from the author of Outline, a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and one of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of the Year

In the wake of family collapse, a writer moves to London with her two young sons. 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 novel 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 novel, 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.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers


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AndreaG_KCMO Jun 04, 2020

The format of this book follows the conversational style of the first in the series, but I found the content far more arresting. If nothing else, the final chapter presents a climax remarkable in atmosphere and in imagery--like I was somehow reading a fine painting.

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.

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:

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!

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?

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.

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.

Jul 04, 2017

Wonderful prose

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.

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.

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