In July, I read Arlington Park and discovered a writer new to me–Rachel Cusk. She was born in Canada in 1967, grew up in Los Angeles, and now lives in England. Arlington Park is her most recent novel. Although I thought it was slightly brusque in its movement between characters and slightly haphazard in its structure, I also thought the writing was outstanding. Upon finishing it, I immediately wanted to read it again. Instead I decided to read all her books in chronological order.
It’s like watching a house being built–seeing how a writer develops over time.
The foundation: Saving Agnes, published in 1993. It won the Whitbread First Novel Award (now the Costa First Novel Award). I started it the first week of September. It’s kind of chick-litty in subject matter, but after all the author would have been 26 when it was published. It also seems to take the author too many words to say what she has to say.
Nevertheless it’s a great beginning for a writer, and it contains some engaging images, like “a row of teenagers sat on a bench like crows on a telegraph wire,” and ”Days when she was expecting a call stretched out before her like empty motorways….”
It also contains some interesting lines like “She’d never known loneliness until she’d had company.” And this combination of an intriguing idea and an image to match: “She had changed, she knew, but she didn’t quite know how or when. Like an old car, the addition of new parts over the years had left little of her original material, but her form remained unaltered. Could she, she wondered, still be said to be the same person?”
More tomorrow on the framing…