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Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Rachel Cusk

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Using her own life as a starting point, Rachel looks at the issues that arise for a woman in the years after she has lived the defining experiences of feminity. She writes about marriage, separation, motherhood, work, money, domesticity and love. Cusk considers the kinds of generational knowledge the contemporary woman harbours, the terrors or expectations that have been passed down to her and that are refracted through the modern transformation of female status.

Aftermath is written in the personal/political mode that characterised A Life's Work, Cusk's acclaimed book about becoming a mother.

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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Underrated classic 15 août 2012
Par Raphael Kadushin - Publié sur
What a relief to read a memoir by a real writer. Cusk's understated, subtle fractured memoir is the perfect antidote to all the bloggy exhibitionism passing as autobiography these days
3 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Unsex me here. Feminist role model from hell 7 août 2012
Par Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' - Publié sur
Misery memoir? Self-help? Rant? Or a tangled web of self-justification? Whatever, this is messy. I thought Cusk had fearsome intellectual cred (Ruskin's brainy younger sister, as apparently one critic improbably - and fatuously - put it, or at least the Drabble de nos jours) yet on the third page of the excerpt in the Granta F-word issue I find 'diffusity' - wha'? - and a little later 'scatteration'. Is this the sound of a woman trying too hard or not trying hard enough? Scattiness aside, her writing has a distinctly Beauvoirian density. I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing; all I know is it's the kind of thing that, if you were reading it in translation, you'd be impressed with because you'd think the meaning would be clearer in the original

[Full disclosure: to my shame I read both Second Sex and Dutiful Daughter* (neat translation, that) in English; while hanging devotedly on every word, I found the latter in particular quite heavy going, yet never considered that the French might possibly be less, um.. forbidding? clotted? rebarbative?? (very Beauvoirian word). In my (feeble) defense, they are both very *big* books - yet Proust in the original holds no fears for me, in fact if you can tackle it, like Chaucer (or Shakespeare, say, if you have the misfortune to be French) it's simply a no-brainer

* on the significance of which, see the, sadly, late Jill Forbes in the THES, but you'll need to google memoir(e)s; I found her piece just as touching and telling as the original, and considerably briefer!]

Who speaks for women? Aside from 'intellos' in the Sontag tradition, America has politicos like Katha Pollitt, whom you have to love because she's funny with it, but since Burchill imploded we've got no-one, it seems, between the healing flame of Germaine the Magnificent and Caitlan the [Colourful? Contemporary? Crass?]. I'd take Caitlin over our female politicians any day (excepting, possibly, Theresa May); plus we have our bona fide comedians, a glorious roll-call from Victoria Wood to Sandi Toksvig - and now the Vagenda site. Perhaps, as in 'race' matters, the ideal spokesman (of either sex) is someone who does not talk about women as either a separate species or even, generally, particularly hard done by (why has a perfectly good word like handicapped fallen into disrepute?); perhaps Cusk is that person. I warm to her sheer cussedness - but jeez is she confused. She thinks she is not needy; her needs are immense. In exercising breadwinner's rights her position appears utterly untenable - she is a monster - but why should men make all the running? Perhaps Anne Enright will speak for the sisterhood - or doesn't she count because she's (a) Irish (b) too sensible? (The Portable Virgin was scarcely that.) I suppose Mary Beard's disqualified for being too 'academic' or specialised. Wrong, wrong, wrong.. But where is the sisterly solidarity now that admirably feminist work of agitprop (actually raw fact) Can We Talk About This is on at the National? The Saturday Review crew on R4 last night were frankly mealy-mouthed in their support, weak-kneed squirming bien pensant abject APPEASERS to a man (including the two who weren't..)

Last thoughts on Cusk: has she friends? and with her lack of empathy (she prizes her 'objectivity', but without empathy what's it worth? can there indeed be self-awareness without empathy?) what can she find to write about? But most probably her empathy is simply suppressed in the interests of expediency, she's stringing us all along and she's perfectly aware she's a monster, more aware than a man would be, anyway. I now learn she's not a Brit but a canuck who mostly grew up in the US and she may combine the vices of that divided heritage, the Oxbridge sense of entitlement with the transatlantic narcissist thing; how dignified (I was going to put 'sane') was Sylvia Plath by comparison! As for the contribution of St Mary's Convent, Cambridge, to that shard of glass at her heart, one wouldn't want to speculate. In the final balance sheet, having dumped her husband for no conceivable reason that I could see, she writes of the remaining three of them 'we are now more open, more capable of receiving than we were'. Silly me! I always thought openness was about being capable of *giving*; Cusk means she's reactivated her neediness, along with messing up the children; 'we belong more to the world'. Can she possibly be that clueless? I do believe she can. Is there not an ounce of poetry, a shred of romance in her being? Ask me another. A sense of humour, then? Pass. What, then, can we learn from these 20 egregious pages of Granta #115? That far from Cusk being 'heroic' (her term - twice!) the true heroes are those fearless truth-teller comedians (and others) not afraid to include themselves in their sights, the performers in the show cited in the previous para (and the audience members who cheered) and all who fight for the betterment of abused women (and others) everywhere. It is NOT about us, Rachel. And Simone, all is forgiven

There's more humanity in one paragraph of AM/PM, the little book I notice a few reviews further on, than in this whole, frankly scary piece of slithery self-exculpation, in which Cusk appears to be attempting to revert to childhood herself, but only in its least attractive aspects
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