Judge Savage

Judge Savage

by Tim Parks
     
 

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Promoted young to the position of Crown Court Judge - because of his ability, because of the political convenience of promoting a man with coloured skin - it's time for Daniel Savage to settle down. Perhaps his marriage is happy enough after all. Teenage children require a father's attention. His career demands the most responsible behaviour. Day by day, Judge Savage… See more details below

Overview

Promoted young to the position of Crown Court Judge - because of his ability, because of the political convenience of promoting a man with coloured skin - it's time for Daniel Savage to settle down. Perhaps his marriage is happy enough after all. Teenage children require a father's attention. His career demands the most responsible behaviour. Day by day, Judge Savage presides over those whose double lives have been exposed. He must be above suspicion.

But the passage from complexity to simplicity eludes him. Why does his daughter refuse to move to the spacious new house he and his wife have bought? Why does a young Korean woman keep phoning him to beg for help? As the most tangled lives are ironed out in court, Daniel Savage's own existence descends into a mess of violence and confusion. The solid English society, of which his public school background ironically makes him the representative, has fragmented into an incomprehensible public gallery where every face conceals a different culture. And those with whom we have the greatest intimacy are suddenly the most frighteningly mysterious.

A hero by chance only to be overwhelmed with disgrace, Daniel Savage's attempt to keep some kind of grip on the world will keep the reader in a torment of tension to the last page. At the same time the sense of recognition is overwhelming. This is the feverish disorientation of the modern city street.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
The remarkable Tim Parks has done it again: He has not only written another novel of immense intelligence, style and power, but he has also written a novel substantially different from everything he has written previously. Now in his late forties, Parks has published 10 novels in two decades (as well as six works of nonfiction, innumerable articles and reviews, and many translations from Italian into English) but has never repeated himself. He does tend to build his novels around suspenseful situations and he has an interest in obsession in one form or another, but even when he returns to familiar themes and situations, he always treats them in fresh, unpredictable ways. — Jonathan Yardley
The New York Times
Parks is ever smart, and funny, about the automatic hypocrisy of middle-class manners, their governing concern for calmness and order...Judge Savage is...a fireworks display of a contemporary novel, pulling off the brilliant and possibly illegal trick of being clever and gripping at once.—Sophie Harrison
Publishers Weekly
Using the same captivating narrative technique as in 1999's highly acclaimed Europa, Parks relates the dizzying tale of a man in crisis. The veteran British author employs a modified version of interior monologue to capture the crash and roar of the life of Daniel Savage, a judge in England's Crown Court circuit. Savage is a man in free fall. His turbulent 20-year marriage is again on the rocks, this time because of his brief affair with a 20-year-old Korean woman who served on one of his juries. Sarah, Savage's 18-year-old daughter, has decided to skip college and join a Christian sect. His best friend, Martin, has again fallen into the throes of a crippling depression, and Savage tries, but predictably fails, to beat back the amorous advances of Martin's wife. Parks, author of 16 works of fiction and nonfiction, sets all this up through Savage's frantic, at times hilarious narration. Adding to the dynamic is Savage's own perception of himself; he's a colored man of "obscurely mixed origin" who is wracked by an odd form of guilt because he never seems to pay the price for his personal and professional indiscretions. The somewhat scattered plot picks up pace when Savage is beaten into a coma by the husband and brothers of his Korean mistress. But that incident even works in his favor when the press, ignorant of the actual facts, makes him a hero. As will happen, however, Savage's luck runs out, and when it does, it goes all at once. Parks allows his plot to become a little long-winded at times, particularly during the novel's many court scenes. Yet his inventive prose, incisive social commentary and bizarre sense of scene and character reaffirm his standing as one of England's better stylists. (Sept.) Forecast: Parks has produced a few humorous thrillers (Mimi's Ghost, etc.), and this novel has elements of suspense, but it should be classed with his straight-ahead literary novels (Destiny; Europa; etc.) and will be reviewed accordingly. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Woe is Daniel Savage. In addition to his myriad duties as newly appointed Crown Court judge in England, he has a new house to worry about, a proselytizing daughter he fears has joined a cult, a lawyer friend apparently going off the deep end, a ne'er-do-well brother, and a tendency to philander that has finally pushed his marriage to its breaking point. His plan to make a fresh start is thwarted when a previous lover reappears, intimating trouble in her life. Either well meaning or still drawn to the dark side, the judge chooses to involve himself in the woman's plight. As a consequence, his double life is exposed, and his carefully constructed world begins to unravel. With its large cast of dysfunctional characters, Parks's novel functions as a quirky mystery of sorts, though who's responsible for bringing about Savage's downfall (besides himself) is less original than the way it's delivered through the judge's clinical eye. The book, like Savage himself, is jittery, calculating, and darkly funny through to its sobering end, which is, for better or worse, a place of rest. Recommended.-Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ultraprolific Parks (A Season With Verona, 2002, etc.) returns to fiction with this account of a minority judge's journey into jurisprudence and scandal. The justice of the courtroom battles the justice of love in the confused and sometimes overly wordy mind of Daniel Savage, a non-white judge in the wig-wearing British legal system. Recently appointed to the bench, Savage hears of men who molest retarded girls and men who snap their children's wrists. But can he pass judgment on them when he's cheated on his wife Hilary with so many women and on occasion been rough with his own children? Just when Savage receives his judgeship, he hears from Minnie, the Korean woman with whom he began an affair while she was sitting on the jury of a case he was trying as a lawyer. Or is it his peculiar daughter who is sending the messages that threaten to destroy Daniel and Hilary's transition after 20 years of marriage into a new home and middle age? Daniel begins to obsess over Minnie as he sits his bench, and when he tries to find her, the young woman's family arranges to have him beaten. He spends some time in a coma, comes out of it as a media sensation, but will his fame be enough to rescue Minnie? And will it cost him his marriage and whatever dignity he's managed? By the end of it Judge Savage will learn that life is like the courtroom: "All human experience is essentially the same," says his friend Martin. "The condemned and the acquitted. All matter and no matter. The outcome of any trial is irrelevant." Parks perhaps spends a bit more time in interior monologue than some would prescribe, but the stream of consciousness rings true, and his judge comes nicely to life in stress and tribulation.Another worthy effort from a reliable source.
Seattle Times
“The book combines family drama with legal thriller and culture-clash showdown to masterful effect. . . . Judge Savage [is] among his finest achievements.”
Washington Post Book World
“A deeply humane portrait of one of the most complicated and interesting characters of recent fiction.”
John Banville
“As true to life as fiction can ever be.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559707404
Publisher:
Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
10/04/2004
Pages:
456
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.25(d)

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