Book #50

Transit by Rachel Cusk

In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions—personal, moral, artistic, practical—as she endeavors to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life.

I was bought this book as a gift, and didn’t realise until this very moment that it had a predecessor. I wondered if this was why I maybe didn’t get it, but quickly realised I did get it; I just didn’t like it.

Faye moves to London with her two sons in the aftermath of her divorce. Once there, she stumbles into various people with whom she has highly unlikely conversations. These small glimpses of sub-characters lives are what make up the plot. I’m sure there’s something there about Faye making sense of her life through other people, but these tiny vignettes did nothing to pique my interest, and only seemed to distance us further from Faye. Not that this was problem, as Faye was as bland and emotionless as they come.

Our sub characters, however, were all philosophy personified. Each of them had incredibly profound and intellectual views on life, and the human psyche; each of them an unrealistic, trite piece of work. You’re lucky if you can find one person in life who you can have these types of conversations with - for it to be every single person you bump into is simply fantasy.

Although I felt the writing flowed beautifully, and Cusk’s language was lyrical, it blundered along like a bad dream. I understand the benefits of the passive listener, but this was really dire.

Style over substance.