The first instalment in Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy, begins with the main character, Faye, taking a plane journey to Athens to teach a writing course in the midst of summer . And what may seem to be a fairly ordinary story, takes off into a whirl of strangeness. Throughout her outings in Athens she meets an assortment of different characters, each with their own curious stories to be told. The subtleness of her character makes her easy to forget, especially in the intriguing tales and personalities of the other characters. It takes the word “I” to remember she’s present, and probably listening just as carefully as we are to the oddities of these conversations.
The writing style is hard to pin down, and is about as foreign to me as the country the books set in. But there is still a sense of familiarity to be found, as each characters monologue describes an intimate but recognisable insight into our own lives. Just as surprising is the crumbs of wit and humour sprinkled throughout the book, reminding us of the narrators playfulness and charm.
At its heart Outline is not a story about Faye, but the people she meets along the way. The main character is not an individual, but the complexities of life that we all experience.