Life and Work

Writers, Readers, and the Conversations between Them

Tim Parks

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In this brilliant collection, a renowned critic vividly depicts the dynamic relationships between authors, their work, and their readers

Acclaimed novelist and critic Tim Parks has long been fascinated by the complicated relationship between an author’s life and work. Dissatisfied with the dominant modes of reading he encountered, he began exploring the underlying values and patterns that guide authors in both their writing and their lives.
In a series of provocative, incisive, and unflinching essays written over the past decade and collected for the first time here, he reveals how style and content in a novel reflect a whole pattern of communication and positioning in the author’s ordinary and daily behavior. We see how life and work are deeply enmeshed in the work of writers as diverse as Charles Dickens, Feodor Dostoevsky, James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, Philip Roth, Julian Barnes, Peter Stamm, and Geoff Dyer, among others. Parks further shows us how readers’ reactions to these writers and their works are inevitably connected to these communicative patterns, establishing a relationship that goes far beyond aesthetic appreciation.
This original and daring collection takes us into the psychology of some of our greatest writers and challenges us to see with more clarity how our lives become entangled with theirs through our reading of their novels.

Tim Parks is the author of fifteen novels, including Europa, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, four acclaimed memoirs, and numerous works of nonfiction. He lives in Milan, Italy.

“Original and provocative, this is a secret, sometimes even painfully raw, biography of writing.”— Philip Davis

Praise for Tim Parks
“[A] brilliant collection of essays . . . An extremely tough critic, Parks writes with elegance and coruscating wit.”—The Times on Hell and Back

“Parks’s literary intelligence, his readerly skills are everywhere manifest and clear. . . . No further endorsement of these great essays is needed (though the writer might welcome them). Read them and be edified.”—Gerry Dukes, The Irish Times on Hell and Back

“Tim Parks is a master of the essay . . . What could have been a hotchpotch of reviews, introductions and the odd conference paper amounts in The Fighter to something altogether more revelatory.”—Amanda Hopkinson, The Independent on The Fighter

“His style is always erudite but never forbidding, bringing an unashamedly humanist consciousness to the lives and works under consideration. . . . This collection is a thought-provoking and often funny contribution to the endless debate about the uses of art and its place in political life.”—Stephanie Merritt, The Observer on The Fighter

“Parks is letter-perfect. He combines the sensibility of a poet with a philosophers ratiocination and a novelists awareness of the worlds profusion of exceptions and contradictions.”—Kirkus Reviews on Adultery and Other Diversions

“His essays are a brilliant mixture of the selfish and the universal, the mundane and the profound. . . . This is a beautifully written book, profound, witty, and satisfying by turns.”—Washington Times on Adultery and Other Diversions

“Tim Parks’s outstanding new collection is an elegant demonstration of the freedom and power of the essay form . . . [and] ranks among the most artful of seductions.”—The New York Times Book Review on Adultery and Other Diversions

“[A] smart, beautifully written book of essays . . .
The candour and clarity of Parks’s prose make this book as absorbing as any novel or travel-memoir.”—Scott Bradfield, The Observer on Adultery and Other Diversions

“A smart, engaging collection . . . invariably intelligent and complex without being intimidating. . . . Fascinating.”—Publishers Weekly
ISBN: 9780300215366
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
320 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4

A Conversation with Tim Parks