Talking About It

Talking About It

by Tim Parks
     
 

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The title story of this collection, "Talking about It," presents two friends, George and Michael, meeting ritually in a pub every night after a game of squash. While George recounts his increasingly extravagant sexual experiences, Michael listens on, meditating on how to redeem his uneventful life. But one day, the tables turn, and Michael finds a way to transfix

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Overview

The title story of this collection, "Talking about It," presents two friends, George and Michael, meeting ritually in a pub every night after a game of squash. While George recounts his increasingly extravagant sexual experiences, Michael listens on, meditating on how to redeem his uneventful life. But one day, the tables turn, and Michael finds a way to transfix his friend’s attention with a very interesting story….Whether describing the simmering warfare in an Italian condominium or the problems and pleasures of adultery, these stories reveal Tim Parks’s deeply felt preoccupations with the inner workings of the human psyche and the dynamics of human relations. Tim Parks is the author of eleven novels, including Judge Savage, as well as travel memoirs, essays, and translations of Italian writers. His most recent work of nonfiction is Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence.

Editorial Reviews

The Seattle Times
"The stories in “Talking About It” are so tasty and taut that they have a pop–fizz dazzle all their own...a brilliant short–story collection…14 feisty stories."
Kirkus Reviews
This first collection of 15 stories, drawn from Parks's entire career, is both informed and cramped by the subject which gave one of his most vivid novels its title: adultery. That's also the subject implicit in the title of the opening story, in which two married men talk about their very different extramarital affairs: sobersided Michael's guilty relationship with a decent younger woman and amoral George's vainglorious carousing with a mistress who (according to George) is an erotic virtuoso. Meeting in pubs following their weekly squash games, Michael and George exchange stories, confess and boast and embroider, until their unequal odd-couple friendship gradually shifts, revealing "stories" each wishes, finally, not to hear. It's an intriguing, if not terribly original, story-particularly when compared with several embarrassingly slight treatments of similar material, notably a story concerning the shared apartment rented by two male friends for their separate assignations ("The Room") and a surprisingly hollow account of a naive wife's refusal to draw the obvious conclusion from overwhelming evidence of her husband's faithlessness ("Something Odd"). One assumes these two are among Parks's earliest, but none are dated. A pair of stories stands out. The first is the tale of a work-weary canoeist who seeks challenge and danger by navigating the tricky waters beneath a bridge where illegal immigrants have made their home ("In Defiance of Club Rules")-it's an ingenious variation on the theme of Parks's most recent novel, Rapids, and a deft contrast between contrived thrill-seeking and lives lived in genuine peril. The second, even better, story is "Lebensraum," in which a family gatheringleaves the members sealed protectively-and resentfully-within their passive solitude and egoism. In scarcely 35 pages, it's a taut, blistering novella: further proof that when Parks moves beyond the shorter form, his work soars. This catch-all volume is clever and readable throughout, but nowhere near the best this writer can do.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781843918035
Publisher:
Hesperus Press
Publication date:
03/01/2007
Series:
Hesperus Contemporary Series
Pages:
350
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

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