This is the final book of the “Outline” Trilogy of novels that Rachel Cusk has been working on for the last few years. The books have similar tones, narration, focus, and other elements, though they take different subjects and plot. The narrator of the novels is a writer who is not exactly working as a writer within the confines of the novels but in the profession of being a writer in the public forms of being a writing. So the first novel focuses on being at a literary conference, and this one does as well, but it also involves travelling and doing press junkets in the process of being a writer.
But as much as anything, the novel is about being a mind in the world and interacting with others. While the first novel focuses on other writing minds, this one is about interacting with nonwriting minds. The scenes in this novel float around. It starts with an airplane ride involving a self-involved white man refuses to not take up as much space as he wants to. We also get train rides, the functions of the conferences, the food situation and all the other struggles of modern life in that capacity. What is interesting to me about this novel is that it is entirely interstices and no events. It’s also interesting with the lingering and ominous sense of doom in the world these days (I don’t think that feeling is entirely valid, but it’s still a a real feeling in the world.)
I found this one a little repetitive from the others, and I do enjoy the writing, but it feels like a retread in a lot of ways.