“The Stuntman”
by Rachel Cusk
from the April 24 & May 1, 2023 issue of The New Yorker

This week we get a new story by Rachel Cusk, whose Outline Trilogy (Outline (2014), Transit (2017), and Kudos (2018)) has been very well received. That’s not quite right: it has been a literary sensation.

This story, “The Stuntman,” has an interesting origin. It was a lecture Cusk delivered in Italy in December. It might not have been exactly what the organizers expected, from the sounds of it! But that’s why we love what Cusk is doing.

Here is how the story begins:

At a certain point in his career, the artist D, perhaps because he could find no other way to make sense of his time and place in history, began to paint upside down. This is how I imagine it. At first sight the paintings looked as though they had been hung the wrong way round by mistake, but then the signature emblazoned in the bottom right-hand corner clearly heralded the advent of a new reality. His wife believed that with this development he had inadvertently expressed something disturbing about the female condition, and wondered if it might have repercussions in terms of his success, but the critical response to the upside-down paintings was enthusiastic, and D was showered with a fresh round of the awards and honors that people seemed disposed to offer him, almost no matter what he did.

I hope you’re all starting what will be a great week! Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.

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