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Quotes Taken From: Outline by Rachel Cusk

Mental illness often leads to an inability to focus, hence why it took me so long to read this short book (it’s only 249 pages). However, once I really let myself get into this novel, I sank right into all of the well-written characters and each of the ten enlightening chapters.

Each chapter is based around a conversation. Written by Rachel Cusk, Outline is a novel that tells more than one story. It is thought-provoking to the point in which I had to continuously have my pen in my hand to underline all of the wonderful sentences and paragraphs that either connected with me or inspired me.

There are two other novels that belong with this, Transit and Kudos; I hope to collect the entire trilogy soon (as well as keep a pen nearby when reading both of them).

some quotes from ‘Outline’ by Rachel Cusk

“It seems success takes you away from what you know, he said, while failure condemns you to it.”

“I was beginning to see my own fears and desires manifested outside myself, was beginning to see in other people’s lives a commentary on my own.”

“Those people were living in their moment, and though I could see it I could no more return to that moment than I could walk across the water that separated us. And of those two ways of living – living in the moment and living outside of it – which was the more real?”

“Your failures keep returning to you, while your successes are something you always have to convince yourself of.”

“The only hope … is to make your child and your husband so important in your own mind that your ego has enough sustenance to stay in live. But in fact … such a woman is nothing but a parasite, a parasite on her husband, a parasite on her child.”

“Somehow we’ve become convinced that if we say even a word out of place we’ve marked them [our children] forever, but of course that is ridiculous, and in any case, why should their lives be perfect? It is our own idea of perfection that plagues us, and it is rooted in our own desires.”

“We should accept occasionally being inconvenienced by our conveniences, just as we had to tolerate flaws in our loved ones: nothing was ever perfect.”

“Sometimes she felt as if she’d arrived at a party just as everyone else was leaving, leaving to go home together and sleep.”

“She had experienced two feelings that seemed directly to contradict one another. The first was longing; and the second was nausea. She both wanted and didn’t want whatever it was that sight […] had invoked.” 

“Yet my own life very often appears sterile, like a bad patch of earth, as if nothing will grow there however hard I try.”

“We were caught in a net of words, tangled up in all these strings and knots, and [that] each of us thought there was something we could say that would set us free, but the more words we spoke the more tangles and knots there were.”

“You could spend your whole life […] trying to trace events back to your own mistakes.”

“It is interesting how keen people are for you to do something they would never dream of doing themselves, how enthusiastically they drive you to your own destruction: even the kindest ones, the ones that are most loving, can rarely have your interests truly at heart, because usually they are advising you from within lives of greater security and greater confinement, where escape is not a reality but simply something they dream of sometimes.”

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  1. Sam

    Thanks for sharing. I also found a lot of her thoughts intriguing.

    Writing comes out of tension, tension between what’s inside and what’s outside.

    A degree of self-deception, she said, was an essential part of the talent for living.

    I had no desire to prove that one book was better than another; in fact, if I read something I admired, I found myself increasingly disinclined to mention it at all. What I knew personally to be true had come to seem unrelated to the process of persuading others. I did not, any longer, want to persuade anyone of anything.

  2. Rachel

    I recently read the trilogy. I LOVED Outline, and then Transit a little less so, and then Kudos a little more less so. I wish they could have all been as good as Outline. Still an interested trilogy nonetheless.

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