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Second Place: A Novel di Rachel Cusk
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Second Place: A Novel (edizione 2021)

di Rachel Cusk (Autore)

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Titolo:Second Place: A Novel
Autori:Rachel Cusk (Autore)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2021), 192 pages
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca

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Second Place di Rachel Cusk

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Mesmerizing, gorgeous writing. Most highly recommended. Now I must read "Lorenzo in Taos" by Mabel Dodge Luhan, her biography about her visitor, D.H. Lawrence. Ms. Cusk mentions the book at the end of hers. ( )
  hubblegal | Jun 13, 2021 |
De tweede plaats. Rachel Cusk.

Wat is liefde? Wie zijn we echt? Wat beweegt ons?

Na haar trilogie Contouren en haar essaybundel Coventry is er nu een nieuwe Cusk roman: De tweede plaats. Een feest voor mij. En ze (Cusk) heeft mijn hoge verwachtingen ruimschoots gehaald.

De tweede plaats is geschreven als een ode aan de herinneringen van Mabel Dodge Luhan. Mabel die een boek schreef over het verblijf van de schrijver D.H. Lawrence bij haar in Mexico. Een boek dat ik (nog) niet gelezen heb. Bij Cusk draait het om de kunstschilder L die bij M en haar gezin verblijft. Over haar uitnodiging aan hem, zijn uiteindelijke verblijf én de gevolgen voor M en haar gezin schrijft/vertelt M aan een zekere Jeffers. Die verteltoon maakt dat het verhaal indringender en intiemer binnenkomt bij ons lezers. (En Cusk schrijft sowieso al immens intens.)

Ik hou van haar en hoe ze schrijft, ik hou van wat ze schrijft en wat dat met me doet. Net als in haar eerdere boeken heb ik halve pagina’s onderlijnd: gedachten die me raken omdat ze uit mijn eigen hoofd lijken geplukt, zinnen die ik verschillende malen moet herlezen om ze te (proberen) begrijpen maar waarvan ik direct weet dat ze waar zijn of inzichten die me doen nadenken. Inzichten in verband met: vrouw zijn, moeder zijn, schoonheid en je mooi voelen, het huwelijk, herinneringen, grenzen stellen,…

Rachel Cusk schrijft verhalen over personages die (in mijn ogen) vaak op haar lijken, op mij lijken. Maar ook op jou, op ons allemaal. Haar verhalen geven je inzicht in jezelf, in de anderen om ons heen, in de wereld. Ze maakt het persoonlijke universeel en omgekeerd. En dat op een manier die boeit en raakt. Ze is gevaarlijk verslavend, u weze gewaarschuwd. ( )
  Els04 | May 25, 2021 |
M is a middle-aged writer of modest talent. She is introspective and deeply thoughtful, but also terribly insecure about who she is and what her place is in the world. As she was recovering from an abusive marriage some years ago, she was strongly affected by viewing the paintings of L. Now remarried to her second husband, M decides to invite L to stay and work in the guest house that she and Tony have on their homestead in a remote coastal community. M is hopeful that a visit from L will boost her flagging self-esteem and provide her with the answers to the nagging questions about what is lacking in her life. After initially refusing the invitation, L suddenly appears one day, but with his glamorous and much younger girlfriend in tow. Their unexpected arrival requires M’s daughter and her boyfriend to vacate the guest house—or ‘second place’ as M calls it—which adds considerable tension to the situation. Clearly, this visit is not going to be the spiritual renewal that M was hoping for.

So goes the basic story of Second Place, Rachel Cusk’s sparkling novel of male-female relationships, the role that art plays in nurturing our lives, the fraught way in which mothers and daughters interact, the cruelties that we sometimes inflict on one another, and a whole lot more. Written as a long letter to a poet friend, the book reads as a lengthy therapy session in which M. works out her frustrations and disappointments with pretty much every aspect of her existence, but most of all her disillusionment with the man L actually is and how little solace he ultimately provides. Although the story itself is well plotted, the work really shines as a character study of at least two complex and very flawed people. And then, of course, there is Cusk’s prose, which is always closely observed and occasionally quite remarkable, starting with the delicious double entendre of the title: the guest house itself becomes an imposing presence in the tale and M clearly feels herself to be in second place as both an artist and a woman.

While Second Place struck me as being wholly original, it actually has an interesting heritage. As the author explains in a brief Afterword, the story was inspired by Lorenzo in Taos, art patron Mabel Dodge Luhan’s memoir of a tense visit that writer D. H. Lawrence and his wife made to her New Mexico estate in 1932 (which explains the M and the L as character names, by the way). Regardless of that connection, this was an emotionally evocative and highly satisfying book to read. It is not a long story in terms of page count, but the philosophical complexity that Cusk creates with her language demands a great deal of attention from the reader; I found myself highlighting many passages throughout the book containing some sentences that were simply stunning. All the more remarkable is how much I enjoyed this novel without actually liking any of the characters (except perhaps for Tony)! That must certainly be one way to define great writing. ( )
  browner56 | Apr 12, 2021 |
"Why do we live so painfully in our fictions? Why do we suffer so, from the things we ourselves have invented?"

Rachel Cusk's novel, Second Place, is inspired by Mabel Dodge Luhan's memoir, Lorenzo in Taos. It's about D.H. Lawrence's fraught visit in Taos upon Luhan's invitation. But the artistic license Cusk takes here is not to be understated. She carefully and sensitively crafts a unique style and structure where the inner lives of her characters glow and pale through the contemplative storytelling of her female protagonist, M. The entirety of the novel is addressed to one Jeffers. And it almost feels as if Jeffers is the reader. It tells a painter's, L, stay in an isolated coastal region where M lives. And while it is a novel that laboriously swims the marsh of relationships, in motherhood and marriage, at the helm it is a profound examination of how art can repel and magnetise an artist with their audience in close encounters. Idealisation of an artist when their art imparts a distinct resonation is not unusual. But there is frequently a danger in these idealisations. More so, once these ideals are shattered and replaced by the ugly truth. More so, when there is subtle crossover from being a mere audience to a (ridiculed) muse. A toxic power dynamic between them bind them to each other.

What makes Second Place emotionally captivating is its glimpses of existential epiphanies and self-realisations girded by M's being female. M's struggles and insecurities in her womanliness pervade her actions and decisions which dislodges her already uncertain place in the world as a woman. It is worth noting as well that M is a writer and L acknowledges this with a tone of mockery while equally dissatisfied with his own works. The enduring dependence of women with men is also alluded to with M's inspection of her own reliance and bond with them. Most importantly, there is also nod to the privilege men has in a society dominated and controlled by them. The amount of opportunities and recognitions men receive compared to women in the art realm alone is much too obvious to ignore.

Cusk's paints a compelling language of realism within these pages with such affecting grace. It nudges you and make you look inward, see the hues of life forever altered by art, and clasp your own place in this world however vague and senseless it may be. Second Place is my first novel of Cusk. It is a memorable introduction. And I'll be sure to grab one or two of her other works the next time I visit the bookshop.

Thanks, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for the advance copy. ( )
1 vota lethalmauve | Jan 31, 2021 |
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