Courtesy of Rachel Cusk.

照片由雷切尔香气管提供。

Rachel Cusk was born in Canada in 1967 to British parents, who moved the family to Los Angeles, then to England, where Cusk lives to this day. She began publishing in her midtwenties—clever and assured novels featuring men and women attempting, with little success, to manage their anchorless lives in a bewildering, loveless world. Then, after having two daughters in quick succession, she began writing essayistically about her life. Her memoirA Life’s Work(2001)处理直接与存在主义、社会, and intellectual struggles of early motherhood. The book received praise for its honesty and intelligence, and also assault for its perceived solipsism and negativity.

A Life’s Workseemed to announce a new beginning for Cusk as an artist, yet it would be almost a decade before she returned to the memoir form; instead, four more novels followed. After these cameThe Last Supper(2009年),记录意大利的家庭旅行,以及一本关于她离婚的书,后果(2012),但她开始看到备忘录的局限性,特别是对于女性作家来说。需要另一种形式。从2014年开始,这是一个创造性小说的三部曲 -Outline,Transit(2016), andkudos(2018)—appeared. In them Cusk created a prose that feels contemporary, swift, and “clean”; characters narrate moments from their lives rather than live them in an unfolding present. The books are both of and post psychoanalysis; the characters are shaped by a culture that has trained us to see ourselves as actors in meaningful stories. The trilogy has been universally praised for doing something thrillingly new with the novel form—a wonderful outcome, but also perhaps indicative of what Cusk suspected: that people would prefer an absent narrator to a specific, female one.

This interview was conducted on four separate occasions over a year and a half. The first conversation took place onstage at the Banff Centre, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The second was at the Random House flat in London. The third time was over the phone; she spoke from her home on the Norfolk coast, which she shares with her husband, the painter Siemon Scamell-Katz. Our final conversation was over iced tea on a hot summer afternoon in Denver, Colorado, where she was teaching for a week. There she sat with perfect posture, a leg tucked under her. Cusk’s intelligence is bright, witty, and declarative. She is quick to flashes of criticism and self-doubt, but mostly speaks with great emphasis and authority, and appears to have already thought to the end of any question that might be posed to her.

During those eighteen months, she was first on the cusp of—and then well past—publishingkudos,并正在世界推广它。在我们的谈话过程中,她越来越绝望地谈到了语言作为作家年龄的语言,以及发现自己越来越迷失在她的工艺中。现在,她的女儿,阿尔伯特琳和杰西,她离开了家,她感到一种奇怪的自由,但也比以往任何时候都更令人困惑,这意味着像一个女人一样留下,并将整个生命和自我给那时离开的人。这种不安在她对创造的看法渗透:她不确定她是否正在接近一段时间的“迟到的工作”或完全职工后的时期。但她带到这些猜测的能量和强度让我感到肯定,她没有“帖子”任何东西,另一个令人兴奋,创新的正式转弯很快就会发生。

INTERVIEWER

I like the line inSaving Agnes(1993) in which the protagonist finds an old book and discovers something she wrote when she was six years old—“It’s good to quietly hide.”

RACHEL CUSK

[] Advice I have not taken in my life . . . No, it would have been good. I can’t even rememberSaving Agnes。I haven’t read it in years and years. I don’t think I could read it. It’s a strange thing about having been publishing for so long. As with any memory of yourself at twenty-five, it feels like your cellular being has completely changed. It’s not just photographs of me with a weird hairstyle at twenty-five—a novel is such an intricate document.

INTERVIEWER

Do you remember writing that book?

CUSK

是的。

INTERVIEWER

What was it like? How did it start?

CUSK

哦,这是一种燃烧自己的燃烧体验。这是一个完全彻底的归纳。而且我已经为一个年龄的人做了一些奇怪的是,那时是二十二或二十三岁。我有效地从世界上的每个人身边转过身来,从其他人正在做的事情。我走了孤立。我不太了解为什么我想这样做,但这是我觉得迫使这样做的事情。

INTERVIEWER

你在的世界是什么?

CUSK

Well, so I was in London. Left university, gone like everybody else to London. We were all in London. I was working in the job I describe inSaving Agnes我一直在晚上写一部小说,我完成了那个,所以这是我的起动器。然后我真的,正确地构思了一部小说并离开了世界Saving Agnes描述了,住在我父母的房子in provincial England. I didn’t get on very well with my parents, so it wasn’t a comfortable place for me to be, but it was the only place available, and they said that for a period of time I could stay there, as long as it was all over and I’d given up the idea of being a writer by some particular date. And I went there and I was totally alone in this huge house—they didn’t really live there, they were sort of elsewhere—and many of my memories of writing that book are of being physically frightened, being alone in the middle of nowhere and feeling quite physically frightened but just having to get on with it. So I stayed there for about nine months, and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Never or hardly ever saw anybody. My parents came on weekends. I had no money. I wrote all day and I wrote all evening and I rewrote everything again, and it was all typewriters and Tipp-Ex. So yes, that was a burning experience.

INTERVIEWER

Did you like what you’d made?

CUSK

是的。I had no opinion of myself and no confidence or self-esteem. I didn’t think I was good at anything. I mean, I’d been to Oxford, so that was the first nice thing that had ever happened to me, and that was the outside world. But my life up until then had been one in which I was criticized, so I guess that experience of learning how to write—that was what I felt I was doing—it was like learning Latin or something. I really, really learned it. I think it’s the only time I’ve ever had that feeling of what it takes to master something. Of course, you have to keep mastering it because it’s organic and growing, but I definitely did it then. And what’s weird is that, I guess because I was so young, I still didn’t really know where a book comes from, like a child doesn’t know where babies come from. So I didn’t know whether or not one would ever come again, and I didn’t know how to make it come. The next book I wrote felt completely different from that.

INTERVIEWER

The Temporary(1995)?

CUSK

是的。It felt false.

INTERVIEWER

Why did it feel false?

CUSK

实际上它很有趣。我几乎可以将我的生命划分在这条线的任何一边,之间是真实的和模仿现实的事情,并且是合成的或不真实的,以及在合成生活中的可怕痛苦或综合关系有点像你想要的东西,但不是它。那就是那本书。这种经历也非常迷失,因为Saving Agneshad been this extraordinary experience when it came out. It was my first experience of attention, and reams and reams were written about the book, and I couldn’t believe it. Then with The Temporary, there were still lots of things written about it, but it wasn’t the same. So I think then I understood that it was a relationship, and that my life and my state of being had to be offered to the writing project for the true book to come out of it. I hadn’t done that the second time. I had written a mental book. I’d tried to think of a narrative or story. It hadn’t come out of my insides. So then I understood. The next book I wrote,The Country Life(1997), that was a true book.

INTERVIEWER

I want to step back a moment. What was it like, reading those reviews ofSaving Agnes?

CUSK

我被送到了信封。每篇论文中有评论的复印件,我坐在父母花园的阶梯上,就像治疗一样。这是一个惊人,治疗的反思经历。

INTERVIEWER

Your self was being reflected back to you?

CUSK

是的。和写作才发生e. Nowhere else in my life did that happen.

INTERVIEWER

How did you know in your childhood or in your teenage years that writing was where you were going to set off to?

CUSK

Well, I didn’t know you could be a writer. I don’t think I ever read contemporary books, so I didn’t know that was a life you could live. But from my earliest life—even from LA, so that means I was less than eight—that was what I did.