Stephanie Bishop is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of New South Wales. Her new novel is Man Out of Time.
In Rachel Cusk’s extraordinary Outline trilogy (2014–18), her narrator adopts a stance of radical passivity; she rarely talks, mainly listens and ventriloquises the stories of others. A landmark series that gutted the novel of many of its conventions, it was hard to imagine what Cusk would do with fiction after this. The answer comes with Second Place (Faber Fiction), a work that doesn’t mark a break with Cusk’s distrust of narrative, but heralds a deepening of her investigations.
Second Place is inspired by Mabel Dodge Luhan’s memoir of D.H. Lawrence’s stay with her in Taos, New Mexico. The novel opens with M, a writer, telling someone called Jeffers about a recent upheaval in her life. Some time ago, when M was living through a crisis, she found herself drawn to the works of a famous artist, known as L. His paintings had a profound effect on her...
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