Rachel Cusk reading from her novel Transit


I’m Rachel Cusk, and I’m reading from Transit.
One evening the previous summer standing in the long shadows of my kitchen at the old
house I had answered the phone with a feeling of pre-sentiment and had heard Lawrence’s
voice sounding as it had never sounded to me before. Rome he said, when I asked him
where he was and in fact I could hear the noise of the city in the background but my
initial impression which was that Lawrence was in that moment alone and surrounded by
infinite empty distances which he gazed down on in terror and awe remained. He did not
reply to my questions about what he was doing in Rome and so I fell silent and allowed him
to tell me that he was on the brink of ending his marriage in order to be with a woman he
believed he loved. This crisis had been building for a few months he said. But here in Rome
it had burst it’s bounds and become imminent. The woman, Eloise, was with him in the city,
he was there for work and Eloise had accompanied him, but he had come out for a walk alone
in order to think. It was on that walk that he had called me. It’s 38 degrees here, he
said. Everything feels completely unreal. I’ve just walked past a woman lying in the
street unconscious covered in mud. I don’t know where I am. The sun has gone down but
for some reason it isn’t getting dark. The light feels like it’s coming from nowhere.
It’s like time has stopped, he said, which I supposed was a way of saying that he could
no longer identify or even imagine a future. It’s alright I said. I don’t know if it is
or not, he said. There on the phone he began to talk to me about a book he was reading
on Carl Jung. My whole life has been a fake he said. I said there was no reason to believe
that that perception wasn’t fake too. This is about freedom, he said. Freedom, I said,
is a home you leave once and can never go back to. God Lawrence said, God I don’t know
what to do. But it was obvious he had already made up his mind.

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