Cleaver

Overview

Why would a man who has it all suddenly turn his back on the world at the height of his power? A celebrated journalist, broadcaster, and documentary filmmaker, Harold Cleaver has just trounced the president in a damning television interview. But balancing Cleaver's success is the unbearable scrutiny of his elder son's equally damning roman à clef, Under His Shadow. Overweight and overwrought, Cleaver abruptly abandons his home, his wife, his mistresses, and, above all, television, the glowing box that brought him...

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Cleaver: A Novel

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Overview

Why would a man who has it all suddenly turn his back on the world at the height of his power? A celebrated journalist, broadcaster, and documentary filmmaker, Harold Cleaver has just trounced the president in a damning television interview. But balancing Cleaver's success is the unbearable scrutiny of his elder son's equally damning roman à clef, Under His Shadow. Overweight and overwrought, Cleaver abruptly abandons his home, his wife, his mistresses, and, above all, television, the glowing box that brought him identity and power. He retreats high into the mountains to evade the numbing hold of e-mail, cell phones, and the endless chatter of public discourse. Weeks later-snowed in at five thousand feet, harangued by voices from the past, and humiliated by his inability to understand the locals on whom he relies for food and whiskey-Cleaver discovers that nowhere is so noisy and dangerous as the solitary mind.

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Editorial Reviews

James Parker
Like Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, with whom he shares certain comic energies and proportions, Cleaver is a mammoth ego in relief, dethroned and in a new landscape. His mind surges: the novel is a tour de force of interior monologue, slipping between tenses and locations to the rhythm of Cleaver's great grievance…Cleaver, Parks's seventh novel, is a work of dense artistry and passionate intelligence. It is also extremely funny.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Through terse, confrontational prose, Parks puts on display the self-absorbed and egotistical mind of notable British journalist and womanizer Harold Cleaver. After sticking it to the unnamed (though unmistakable) current president of the United States in a television interview, Cleaver should be on top of the world. But his son's just-released damning roman-à-clef, In His Shadow, disrupts Cleaver's life and moment of glory. Cleaver sequesters himself in the German mountains inside a remote, ratty cottage-the former home of a now-deceased Nazi soldier-and finds that while he can flee his fast-paced existence, his psyche is not so easily quieted. With a doll named Olga and a dog named Uli as his only companions, Cleaver finds himself in constant debate about his deceased daughter, Angela, his attempt to replace her through extra-marital affairs, and his son's betrayal. As Cleaver battles his demons and tries to come to terms with his past, his food supply diminishes and a bruising blizzard rages outside. Parks (Europa) gives readers a robust protagonist riddled with doubt, and the path he sends him down is both treacherous and cathartic. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In this latest from Booker Prize finalist Parks (Europa ), British media personality Harold Cleaver has just skewered the President of the United States in a television interview and, turning his back on society, retreats into the mountains. The narrative is conveyed with ironic humor and precision through Cleaver's inner voice as he thinks about his life and reveals his mental perambulations. His reflections are poignant and believable, and the descriptions of his adventures and the people he meets combine with his ruminations to reveal his life story organically. Moreover, his grief for a daughter he lost in a car accident 15 years earlier provides a ringing counterpoint to his struggle with the anger he feels toward his eldest son, who has just written a critical exposé of his famous father. The slowly revealed details create an honest emotional tableau that is both intriguing and funny. Unique, immediately impactful, and carried through to a reasonable resolution; recommended for all libraries.-Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780436205613
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.67 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Parks is the author of more than twenty novels and works of nonfiction, including the best-selling Italian Neighbors and An Italian Education. His novels include Europa which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His essays have appeared in the The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, for which he blogs. Tim Park is also a renowned translator. He lives in Italy.

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