This is probably the place to stop and say that Cusk told us a little later, that his novel “Loseonzo to In is a debt,” that DH Lawnsens lived with him in Tos at the time of his 1932 memoir of Mabel Dodge Luhan. Had come , new Mexico.”
You don’t need to read Luhan’s memoir (I didn’t have it this week) to enjoy Cusk’s novel. Luhan’s book is a treat, however, and deserves to be better known. Lawrence was irritable and intense, as is the painter L in Kask’s novel.
Both books are addressed to “Jeffers”. In Luhan’s case, it was his friend, the poet Robinson Jeffers. In Kask’s novel, Jeffers’ identity remains a mystery. One can write a term paper on the overlap between books.
My favorite overlaps are funny little ones. For example, in Luhan’s book, Freida Lawrence, who goes with her husband, “does not have a mouth like a gunman.” Cusk gives El’s girlfriend, Brett, an unusual mouth, too (“his weird letterbox mouth is black with a hanging”). Luhan rarely turned up an opportunity to destroy a line home with an exclamation point, and it’s interesting to see his overheat tone bleed into Cusk’s cooler beauty.
M wreaks havoc almost every moment. After an opening conversation with El, she writes, in a language that is not unethical in this novel: “I would like to drift in tears – such strange, violent impulses were coming at me, one after the other.” I wanted to lie down and clench my fists at the grass. “
M did not expect L to bring a girlfriend, especially not a pretty young one. His response to Brett is the reader’s first indication that M is mentally close to the brink, and that the book will be a windscreen affair. She says that Brett’s arrival “changes everything.” He is angry that L wants to paint pictures of everyone but him. She talks of harming herself.