Monday, January 30, 2006

publishing blogs and tim parks

This is really interesting; just noted from The Bookseller that Richard Charkin, who is the chief executive at Macmillan - the first publishing company I worked for - has started his own blog; charkin blog. It's quietly interesting without shouting at the moment; I hope Richard opens up more and explores the time he has spent recently with the society of authors and the publisher's association - they've been discussing the future of digital rights, which is fairly crucial stuff right now. With a bit of luck he'll start spilling the beans about Jeffrey Archer's Krug parties, too.

Elsewhere, I'm absurdly excited at the fact that there's only a week between me and the new Tim Parks novel, which publishes on February 6th. Its publication, unusually for Parks, who is not renowned for following fashion, is uniquely timely - not only has Celebrity Big Brother, which has surely ascended from a profoundly un-Orwellian gameshow to the status of masterful post-modern satire, finished, but Parks finds himself, like Rick Moody, writing about TV at a time when television, stardom and celebrity seem to have gripped us all. Even Jeremy Paxman is appearing on Big Brother now. If Parks, more commonly found writing intense, feverish first person novels about middle aged men on the point of nervous collapse, has turned his attention to the "invasive nature of the public voice, the spoken media", perhaps he is due a little attention and a long overdue critical reappraisal. For my money, he's the best writer in the game, but utterly under-appreciated.

Except of course Parks hasn't really revised his approach, by the sound of things. The central character of 'Cleaver' might be a TV celebrity, but it looks like the book will address all of Parks' common themes; displacement, memory, nausea, loss. His website currently displays the first page of the novel and, as always, it's almost unreadable - Parks's authorial voice is so singular and strange that you have to throw yourself in and splash around lost until meanings become clear. It's something to do with his use of tense. One section reads:

"I have no baggage, he declared. Nothing. Nothing, Cleaver finally muttered, as he adjusted a safety belt to his girth, will be brought back from this trip for insertion in the national debate. For so many years a master of the public voice, he would now leave it behind. Such is the extraordinary idea that has somehow thrust itself upon Harold Cleaver during these last few days of remarkable public notoriety and intense private turmoil: I must shut my big mouth."

I won't pass judgement 'til I've read it, but no other writer is as exciting, ordinary and strange, for me.

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