On Writing and Sailing
I embraced the pen as I’d once done the sea, full of hope and dreams. My approach was similar to how I saw my day job at the shipyard: I sought to construct, to build a novel that could be published one day. Subconsciously, my two passions were already nurturing each other.
February 5, 2020
Is Literary Glory Worth Chasing?
Does it make any sense at all to pursue literary glory? Are the writers we praise really the best anyway? In 1824, the Italian poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi decided to take on the subject in a thirty-page essay, of kinds. What follows here is nothing more than a brief summary of what he says.
November 27, 2018
Coetzee's Boyhood Photos
J.M. Coetzee gave up photography, he says, because of a lack of empathy and curiosity. But one must take these protestations with a pinch of salt, for he came to understand the way storytelling was driven by not being allowed across a threshold, by imagining what might lurk beyond it.
January 19, 2018
Location, Location, Location
I am known in England mainly for light, though hopefully thoughtful non-fiction; in Italy for polemical newspaper articles and a controversial book about soccer; in Germany, Holland, and France, for what I consider my “serious” novels *Europa*, *Destiny*, *Cleaver*; in the USA for literary criticism; and in a smattering of other countries, but also in various academic communities, for my translations and writing on translation. Occasionally I receive emails that ask, “But are you also the Tim Parks who…?,” Frequently readers get my nationality wrong. They don’t seem to know where I’m coming from or headed to.
August 30, 2012
The Writer’s Job
Since when did being a writer become a career choice, with appropriate degree courses and pecking orders? In the last thirty or forty years, the writer has become someone who works on a well-defined career track, like any other middle class professional, not, however, to become a craftsman serving the community, but to project an image of himself (partly through his writings, but also in dozens of other ways) as an artist who embodies the direction in which culture is headed. In short, the next big new thing. Does this state of affairs make any difference to what gets written?
February 28, 2012
Writing Adrift in the World
If there is a problem with the novel, and I’m agreed that there is, it is not because it doesn’t participate in modern technology, can’t talk about it or isn’t involved with it; I can download in seconds on my Kindle a novel made up entirely of emails or text messages. Perhaps the problem is rather a slow weakening of our sense of being inside a society with related and competing visions of the world to which we make our own urgent narrative contributions; this being replaced by the author who takes courses to learn how to create a product with universal appeal, something that can float in the world mix, rather than feed into the immediate experience of people in his own culture.
January 19, 2012