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.