#AMREADING RACHEL CUSK. Creative Writing in Athens.
- ON THE PLANE TO ATHENS: My neighbour was a man of conventional sandy-coloured good looks, but close up there was something uneasy in his appearance, as though he had been put together out of unrelated elements…He had large white teeth which he kept always a little bared and a loose body poised somewhere between muscle and fat.
- ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT: The notion of self-transformation was an article of faith…he could decide how he wanted to be and then be it. There was no pre-ordination.
- ATHENS AT NIGHT: Darkness fell but otherwise the evenings were strangely without the sense of progression. It didn’t get cooler or quieter, or emptier of people; the roar of talk and laughter came unstaunched from the glaring terraces of restaurants, the traffic was a swarming, honking river of lights, small children rode their bicycles along the pavements under the bile-coloured streetlamps. Despite the darkness it was eternal day, the pigeons still scuffling in the neon-lit squares, the kiosk open on street corners, the smell of pastry still hanging in the exhausted air around the bakeries.
- MORE SELF-IMPROVEMENT: In his marriage, the principle of progress was always at work, in the acquiring of houses, possessions, cars, the drive toward higher social status, more travel, a wider circle of friends, even the production of children felt like an obligatory calling-point on the mad journey. When there was nothing more to add, he and his wife would be beset by a great sense of futility, a kind of malaise: the feeling of stillness after a life of too much motion.
- HUMAN AFFAIRS are like cloud banks, sometimes portentous and grey and sometimes mere distant inscrutable shapes that blotted out the sun for a while and then just as carelessly revealed it again.
(From Rachel Cusk, Outline)