A Series of Punishments

Rachel Cusk’s writing offers that unusual convergence of microscopic observation and breathtaking sentences. It is rare for a writer to be capable of both sensitivity and beauty. It was discernible in the problematic but absorbing Aftermath but especially manifest in Outline. This sentence seems almost a summation of Cusk’s grand theme, or at least what I can detect from reading just two of her books. It is one of those sentences that force me to lay the book aside, transcribe it with fountain pen and grey ink into my notebook, type it into this box, and then sit back and think of its force.

“Sometimes it has seemed to me that life is a series of punishments for such moments of unawareness, that one forges one’s own destiny by what one doesnt notice or feel compassion for; that what you don’t know and don’t make the effort to understand will become the very thing you are forced into knowledge of.”

Rachel Cusk, Outline

4 thoughts on “A Series of Punishments

  1. Cusk’s prose is beautiful and thought-provoking. I will have to add some of her books to my reading list for 2017

    The quote you copied reminds me of the Laocoon story which I was just rereading in Vergil. Laocoon is punished for trying to get to the truth and yet the Trojans are punished because they ignore or don’t want to know the truth. Interesting to think about.

    Are you still making your way through the Kafka biography? I might put those books on my list for next year as well. I will have to see what you thought about the last book that deals with his childhood.

  2. I’d like to work my way back through Cusk’s work and have just ordered her debut.

    Stach’s Kafka is magnificent. I’ve paused because I want to finish the book in 2017. I read a chapter before sleep each night.

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