Rachel Cusk knows how to look at things. In Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation, her forensic sense of empathy is clear whether describing a local florist or her profound alienation after her marriage of ten years came to an end.
What happens when the texture of our world shatters into pieces? If we are no longer able to see the form that provides a sense of structure to our world? Cusk seeks to give form to her world through language, giving shape to chaos through writing Aftermath. As David Winters writes of Lydia Davis’s novel, “she tries to imprint an order upon her experience.”
Cusk’s Aftermath is a work of originality.. An striking opening leads to a startling, clever ending, but along the way she looks at the fragility of most unions whose pieces rarely fit tidily together, and like a jigsaw only looks complete from far away.
I intend to explore Cusk’s backlist further but the call back to Dostoyevsky is stronger.
I couldn’t understand why this book was so criticised for ‘washing the dirty laundry in public’. I thought it had many universal points to make via a personal story. Above all, I like her ability to analyse her own dismay and contradictory emotions. I wrote a review of it, if you are interested.
There is obviously more behind people’s reaction to Rachel Cusk, certainly I can’t see why this book should enrage people in the way it does. It is beautifully written and acutely perceptive.
Thanks, Marina, for the link to your review, enjoyed reading it.
Her book on motherhood was also seized upon with much bitterness or venom, although it rang true for any artist or working woman passionate about her work.
From what I’ve read the hate campaign against that book stemmed from the Mumsnet Mafia. For reasons I don’t quite understand (yet), there is a particular demographic that just loathe Cusk on principle. Watching the reaction recently when Katherine Angel (@kayengels)’posted on Twitter about Cusk was illuminating.