Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
Pages: 256
Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Where I'm Reading FromThe Changing World of Books

by Tim Parks

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Why do we need fiction? Why do books need to be printed on paper, copyrighted, read to the finish? Do we read to challenge our vision of the world or to confirm it? Has novel writing turned into a job like any other? In Where I'm Reading From, the internationally acclaimed novelist and critic Tim Parks ranges over a lifetime of critical reading—from Leopardi, Dickens, and Chekhov, to Woolf, Lawrence, and Bernhard, and on to contemporary work by Jonathan Franzen, Peter Stamm, and many others—to overturn many of our long-held assumptions about literature and its purpose. In thirty-eight interlocking essays, Where I'm Reading From examines the rise of the "global" novel and the disappearance of literary styles that do not travel; the changing vocation of the writer today; the increasingly paradoxical effects of translation; the growing stasis of literary criticism; and the problematic relationship between writers' lives and their work. Through dazzling close readings and probing self-examination, Parks wonders whether writers—and readers—can escape the twin pressures of the new global system and the novel that has become its emblematic genre.Tim Parks


Why do books matter? British novelist, essayist, translator, and critic Parks considers the current state of writing and reading in short, contemplative literary musings..."Do We Need Stories?" "Why Finish Books?" "What's Wrong with the Nobel?" "Does Money Make Us Write Better?" Readers vexed by such questions will welcome Parks' thoughtful responses.

[Parks'] depth of reference, his gossipy, erudite asides into the ways a writer's biography informs what gets on the page, the energy of his judgment therefore makes this collection a rare thing: a book about reading that only makes you want to read more and a book about writing that needs to be read.
— Tim Adams, The Observer

Parks, who has lived in Italy for more than 30 years, is a translator as well as a novelist, and many of the most arresting pieces in Where I'm Reading From take us into the gaps between different languages. He likes those gaps; his favourite writers resist translation (James Joyce, obviously, but Barbara Pym just as much, he thinks). He can show how a couple of sentences of DH Lawrence, audaciously wrenching some easy idiom, are quite as untranslatable as any poetry (he is excellent on Lawrence). And in an admirably irritated sally, he skewers the self-serving waffle of some translators of poetry who compensate for their own ignorance of a particular language with a boasted sensitivity to 'language' in general.
— John Mullan, The Guardian