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Comment: Ex-library book. May have typical labels and markings. Good readable copy. Worn edges and covers and may have small creases. Otherwise item is in good condition!
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Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation Hardcover – August 7, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Cusk's book is a complicated elegant structure: Renaissance, round and wordy, decorated with chiaroscuro environments and references to the ancient Greeks. Unlike most breakup memoirs, though, Aftermath is a sequel of sorts, and proof that Cusk's creative mission is to grapple with the word chaos of modern life, to formally pound it into submission. Intellectually, Aftermath is exquisite; emotionally, it is process, not progress.––Minna Proctor


“[I] admire Cusk . . . for the gravity and ruthlessness of her self-examination. Much that is written these days about what are regretfully called 'relationships' feels overly processed, with emotions filtered bloodlessly through irony, or diverted into easy sentimentality. Cusk's book, on the other hand, is emotionally raw and deeply uncomfortable-making, while also being finely turned as a literary artifact. (Cusk can nail a simile like Gabby Douglas can execute a backflip). Cusk, admirably enough, is not afraid to take herself seriously.” ―Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker

“[A] brilliant new memoir . . . As slim and revealing as a microscope slide.” ―Lisa Shea, Elle

“Compelling . . . Affecting . . . [A] bravely unsympathetic memoir of marital dissolution . . . A restlessly erudite portrait of post-marital strife. The book's satisfactions lie in its cold-eyed probing of the "aftermath," which, as she tells us, is a second sowing after the initial harvest. And in its vivid use of image and metaphor . . . This book is a solace to anybody who has dwelt in post-familial wastes.” ―Liza Mundy, San Francisco Chronicle

Thrilling . . . There are riches buried like gold in the bitter picture she describes . . . An enormously talented writer.” ―Nan Goldberg, The Boston Globe

“[Aftermath] is engaging throughout. The writing is full of feeling . . . Cusk is a great observer of the roles people--and especially women--play, studying not only the garbs they put on for tradition and ideology, but also how this action affects their understanding of themselves.” ―Ashley Nelson, The Washington Post

“Compelling . . . Strikingly beautiful . . . Meticulously crafted . . . [Cusk] is a keen, even brilliant, observer of her own behavior.” ―Margaret Eby, The Christian Science Monitor

Striking . . . Startling . . . Unflinching . . . Bold, gripping, original and occasionally darkly funny.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“I read A Life's Work shortly after I, too, had had a child, and doing so was like finally letting go of a breath I had held for a year. Ostentatiously smart, fearless, the author displayed what almost seemed a compulsion to yank the threads of that impossibly pretty doily tatted by convention around motherhood . . . Her memoir of divorce displays the same ferocity of intellect, humor, and occasional bad mood . . . It is a testament to Cusk's talent that she was able to make something of [divorce] that would not set fire to the reader, only raise the occasional blister; it was she, the newly divorced, who was rendered ash. That is how it always is. But sometimes a phoenix rises. Sometimes the bird takes the shape of a book.” ―Melissa Holbrook Pierson, The Daily Beast

“In this thought-provoking memoir, Cusk musters her considerable literary powers to mine a complex terrain filled with heartbreak and doubt . . . Interspersed within the narrative are stories within stories, vivid scenes, and piercing observations.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Compelling and assured . . . [Cusk is an] exacting, formidable talent.” ―Alison Pick, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“A penetrating exploration of gender roles in the context of marriage and family and how the dissolution of a marriage changes a person's relationship with others.” ―Vanessa Bush, Booklist

A well-wrought treatise on the stark reality of divorce. Cusk fearlessly cultivates her own aftermath, or ‘second sowing,' and chooses to live ‘the disorganized life and feel the dark stirrings of creativity, than to dwell in civilized unity, racked by the impulse to destroy.'” ―Meganne Fabrega, Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

Artful and nuanced . . . [Cusk] has the novelist's saving graces--honesty, courage, and the ability to depict her experiences in exquisitely crafted language . . . Her exacting, cerebral treatment of such a highly-charged subject is what makes it of literary value.” ―Amanda Craig, The Independent

Brilliant . . . Rachel Cusk's books are like pop-up volumes for grown-ups, the prose springing out of the page to bop you neatly between the eyes with its insights.” ―Julie Burchill, The Observer (London)

Unflinching and beautifully wrought . . . Cusk uses the [memoir] form with great tact and writerly panache. She is at once probing and reticent, mustering her scenes and images to convey the truth of enmeshed lives and loves . . . [Aftermath is] full of beauty--the beauty of language struggling to reveal an experience which is complex and scored with doubts and pain.” ―Lisa Appignanesi, The Daily Telegraph

Startlingly insightful . . . Rachel Cusk's writing has quietly thrilled me for years with its intelligence, perception and understated power: ordinary people's flaws are depicted vividly yet without fanfare in brittle, brilliant prose . . . As always with Cusk, it's exhilarating to feel stimulated, to have fabulous phrases and similes cause pulses of pleasure.” ―Leyla Sanai, The Independent on Sunday

Readers who admire the difficult discipline of self-scrutiny will find precision, beauty and a complicated truth in Cusk's narrative.” ―Jane Shilling, New Statesman

Funny and smart and refreshingly akin to a war diary--sort of Apocalypse Baby Now . . . A Life's Work is wholly original and unabashedly true.” ―Elissa Schappell, The New York Times Book Review on A Life's Work

[Cusk] writes with the intelligence, wit, and keen eye for detail demanded by any kind of reporting, and the result is a book on the subject curiously unlike any other.” ―The New Yorker on A Life's Work

“Pity the writer who has the misfortune to produce a book at the same time and on the same subject as the ridiculously gifted Rachel Cusk. The author of three novels, Cusk brings her clear-eyed wit to the subject of motherhood . . . You get the sense of a superior mind that can't stop itself from whirring away.” ―Newsday on A Life's Work

Hauntingly beautiful . . . [Cusk] succeeds in finding an original, literary language to express the journey to motherhood.” ―The Christian Science Monitor on A Life's Work

“A wonder. Cusk has written something fine and beautiful . . . I can't imagine that anyone who is both a reader and a mother will be unmoved by it.” ―The Atlantic Monthly on A Life's Work

“She captures the absolute shock of suddenly finding yourself responsible for another person--with no training, no guidance, and, indeed, no one coming from their planet to take them back. A brilliant book--and so funny too.” ―Kate Atkinson on A Life's Work

“I loved reading it, and found it fascinating, but I also found it dangerous. An incitement to riot . . . It's an extraordinary piece of work and the writing is utterly beautiful . . . I laughed out loud, often, in painful recognition.” ―Esther Freud on A Life's Work


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374102139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374102135
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It was about 10 years ago when Rachel Cusk came seemingly out of nowhere with a book called "A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother", a tender and touching look at not just becoming a mother, but also being a wife. The book became an unexpected bestseller, and for good reason, and it made for terrific reading. Now comes this sequel-of-sorts.

In "Aftermatch: On Marriage and Separation" (155 pages), we now learn that the author's marriage has fallen apart, and how she is coping with that, and dealing with her 2 young daughters. Reports Cusk: "My husband said he wanted half of everything, including the children. No, I said. What do you mean, he said. You can't divide people in half, I said." (This reminded me immediately of Radiohead's "Morning Bell", with the now infamous line "Cut the kids in half".) Right after those lines, though, Cusk dives into Greek mythology, and this becomes a recurring theme in the book. Pages and pages about Oedipus, Agamemnon, etc. and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why, or how this relates to the "Marriage and Separation" title of the book. Indeed, I wish the book would focus more on the reasons for the marriage falling apart, which are never fully explored or explained.

Yet there remain enough piercing comments that make this book worthwhile. "Sometimes, in the bath, the children cry. Their nakedness, or the warm water, or the comfort of the old routine--something, anyway, dislodges their sticking-plaster emotions and shows the wound beneath. It is my belief that I gave them that wound, so now I must take all the blame." Or this: "The first time I saw my husband after our separation, I realized, to my surprise, that he hated me.
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I pre-ordered this title as I had read and enjoyed this author's previous book "A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother" which dove darkly into the never-discussed emotional displacement that often follows when a fiercely independent woman becomes a new mother. I was expecting similar reading on divorce experience from the same voice.

"AfterMath: On Marriage and Separation" seemed to be written prematurely within the arc of this particular life experience of the memoir writer. Rachel Cusk does not dig deeply at all into the demise of her marriage nor her own causal pathologies which become painfully obvious to the reader but apparently not yet the writer as pages full of pseudo-intellectual text drone on with barely any emotional depth to be found.

I hoped to love this book but I cannot recommend it.
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For many of us who have been through marriage, children and divorce, this book will resonate. It is one of the most lyrical books to read about the subject. It will bring you back to the time you knew your marriage isn't working, you try harder, but no, both of us are not trying at the same intensity.

Rachel Cusk's book is a small book, easy to read, but filled with such words to ponder. I have heard her first book is exceptional, and I need to read it, soon. Rachel Cusk has a way with words, for such a small book, it is filled with magnificent imagery. The only critique us that I could not find the reason for her separation and divorce. I needed to understand what occurred that made her husband look at her with hate. Her two young daughters were as always the recipients of the muddle a divorce makes. Shuttled between parents, Rusk found them grieving in their own way.

I found Rusk's sharing her concept of what divorce was for her, helpful. A little simple at times, but the feelings are there. She found herself talking with a new friend a little differently than she did with her husband.,she was not as comfortable in this pose, but she recognized it. I think Rusk excels at writing, and I am quite interested in reading her first book, and the new book that came out in January.

Recommended. prisrob 04-17-15
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I found this memoir super difficult to follow, abstract and confusing. At times I did not even know who the author was referring to. Some of it is written in the first person, other chapters are about someone named Sonia. The male characters like her ex-husband, her therapist and someone else are named X, Y and Z... and I could not keep them straight. The narrative was not written in a personal way or a way I could relate to. It was like reading a formal essay, without any humor or even much honesty. I felt like she was afraid to divulge too much information and was writing in a cryptic, emotionally distant fashion. I could not get into it and did not care enough to really try to understand. What a waste of money!
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