They are coming out my ears. This one, from Mark, is the 'open the book nearest to you at page 123 and write down the fifth sentence' meme.
"Verstehe nicht, she said."
Now if I was a really tough individual, I'd say, 'guess what it's from, HAHA, HAHA!'
But no. It's from Tim Parks' Cleaver, which I am ashamed to say I picked up for a song from the Melbourne University professional bookshop's sinbin on Monday, along with a copy of Gail Jones' Sixty Lights, A.L. Kennedy's Day and a book by David Malouf which I was going to use for this meme before dinner, but which my son has decided belongs elsewhere.
I can't remember the name of it, and now I can't even see it. I loved The Great World so much when I read it earlier this year that the Malouf came easily into my hand - and has gone walkies, but the point of this activity being that the book must be close to you has to be maintained. So, Cleaver, from the new bargain books pile, it is. (He tried to swipe Cleaver while I was typing this, too, but I said "OI." )
Tim Parks is someone I became interested in after reading a profile that described him as a writer who has managed to build a reputation without appearing at festivals or being interviewed for (ahem) profiles.
He eschews giving bits of himself away, arguing that they distract from the books, which include 'narrative' and other essays, a study of Italian translations of the English modernists, many English translations from Italian and three other books of non-fiction.
There is some information on his website about five of his eleven novels (where are the others? one wonders), including this from the Irish Times about Cleaver:
' Never has the need to empty one's mind been as convincingly, or as brilliantly, illustrated as in Tim Parks's full-blooded Cleaver. In a career spanning more than 20 years, and 13 novels, this most deliberate and underrated of English writers has consistently entered the more unattractive corners of human consciousness, with increasingly sophisticated and mature results.
Never overly concerned with style, he is instead a no-nonsense writer who invariably has something to say and tends to say it with robust candour, few apologies and a mastery of controlled indignation.'
There's also news that he is preparing a new translation of Machiavelli's Prince for Penguin, due for publication in 2009. What an intriguing fellow. I am excited, it's almost as good as Brian Moore coming back to life. I can hope so, anyway. The mise-en-scene of Cleaver has more than a sniff of the peerless Moore about it.
I have only read 35 pages of Cleaver, as I am still finishing Hanif Kureishi's Something To Tell You. So I have not read the rest of page 123.
But if the next
87 88 pages are as terse and compelling as the first 35, I will get there very speedily indeed.
(The Malouf is Child's Play. I've just found it in a completely different spot - maybe it was me?) Do consider yourself tagged, if this is your fancy.