“Cusk is best known for her Outline trilogy, those cool and exacting works of autofiction. Second Place too draws from life, in as much as the main character ‘M’ is a writer who lives in an isolated marsh—not unlike Cusk herself—and the narrator gestures towards some ‘global pandemonium’ making travel difficult. But the main thrust of the plot is derived from, or adapted from, a 1933 memoir by the American salonnière Mabel Dodge Luhan, who invited the writer D.H. Lawrence to live at her arts colony in New Mexico. Like Luhan, Cusk’s M writes to a painter she admires, inviting him to live in a guest house on her property. Like Luhan, M hopes that this this celebrated artist will reflect her life and landscape in some way through his art, something she does not feel qualified to do. And—like Luhan’s relationship with Lawrence—this relationship cannot be anything other than fraught and parasitic. But who, exactly, is the parasite?” Read more...
Notable New Novels of Summer 2021
Five Books Editor