Nothing we read is in isolation. Everything we read is shaded by our mood, temperament, and by the other books we read before and afterwards. Claire-Louise Bennett’s Pond made me think of Rachel Cusk’s work. Both writers have an austere luminosity, every inch poetic and eloquent, both writers capable of crafting the most unerring sentences.
What is apparent even in Cusk’s early work is a voice formed from confusion, mortality and defeat, a voice that without ever hardening acquires over time a deepening force and clarity. Though I read Pond for the most part with pleasure, there is a precocious, knowing tone that becomes mildly vexing. The way of observing the world, uncanny in its quickness is a little naive and disembodied. Read in juxtaposition to a different writer, the shade cast will have been different.
I’m really keen to read this. I’ve read very differing reactions to it, which makes me think it must be interesting!
It is worthwhile, though I flagged a bit towards the end.
Thank you for reviewing this, and for putting into words what ended up annoying me slightly about the tone of this (otherwise marvellous and surprising) book. And I definitely want to check out Rachel Cusk now. Do you recommend anything of hers in particular?
A good place to start with Cusk would be Outline, the first in a projected trilogy (the trilogy middle book is also out now: Transit). In this trilogy Cusk has made a big shift in narrative voice and style from her earlier novels. I’m now reading chronologically from her debut.
Thanks Anthony. It’s going on the shopping list. Looking forward to your thoughts on her work.