Outline by Rachel Cusk
Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her student in storytelling exercises. She meets other writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her seatmate from the place. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves, their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face great a great loss. Outline is the first book in a short and yet epic trilogy.
Despite seeing lots of hype surrounding Cusk's trilogy over on Instagram, I'd never been particularly drawn to Cusk's novels in bookshops. However, I decided audio was a good way to start exploring Cusk and see if I wanted to continue reading the trilogy - and I'm so glad I did! Cusk is an absolute master of conversational prose. The novel features very little action but instead you learn about the central character through conversations she has with the various people she meets. This gives a deeply personal and unfiltered understanding of the central narrator and the inner workings of her character. I enjoyed Outline so much that I've since gone out and bought the complete trilogy and can't wait to start exploring more of Cusk's writing.