This book’s range is such that every reader will find at least one essay of interest to them. The first section contains personal essays. The second section is the most diverse, containing essays on an artist, a saint, so-called “women’s writing,” and creative writing classes. The final section contains spectacular essays on works by Edith Wharton, Natalia Ginzburg, Kazuo Ishiguro, and more.
Cusk is a writer’s writer, which means even essays that seem at first to be personal dwell on the power of narrative and focus on being an artist. She isn’t just discussing motherhood, she is writing about the artist-as-mother. She isn’t just talking about divorce or making a home for oneself, she is talking about creativity. It is the sort of writing that could isolate some readers. And there are moments, especially in the first few pieces that, though beautiful, have a way of flowering (maybe too much) around metaphors. Despite this, once you become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of Cusk’s prose, you may find what at first felt isolating to be Cusk’s strength.
The essays are undeniably Cusk’s work. They are written in a voice that is uniquely and fearlessly hers. Her essays on motherhood are done with an honesty that can, at times, seem almost crass. She speaks about the thin line between rudeness and truth telling, about gender, and about relationships with a frankness that is becoming rare. Though not every essay in this collection is a gem, there are sections that shine and will especially gleam for readers who are artists themselves.
|Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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