But the passage above also reflects a new preoccupation: a crisis about the very nature of fiction. Following the publication of Aftermath, Cusk told the Guardian that she had come to a place of “creative death.” “Once you have suffered sufficiently,” she noted, “making up John and Jane and having them do things together seems utterly ridiculous.” Fiction suddenly seemed “fake.” For three years, she neither wrote nor read. Like her narrator’s son, she had stopped believing in the “magic river.” And so this passage evokes a rupture of the contract between the novelist and her readers, who feel “a shared vision of things that strictly speaking could not have been said to exist.”