Colin Steele reviews 'Where I'm Reading From' by Tim Parks

Colin Steele reviews 'Where I'm Reading From' by Tim Parks

Where I'm Reading From: The Changing World of Books

by Tim Parks

Harvill Secker, $34.99 hb, 256 pp, 9781846559037

British novelist, translator, and critic, Tim Parks, based in Italy since 1981, is well credentialled to examine the changing world of books. Parks says, however, that while he wanted to comment on ‘writing itself, and reading, and books’, he didn’t want to do it ‘in a precious way’.

In Where I’m Reading From, Parks is certainly far from precious as he tilts against many literary windmills, including the global marketing of fiction, literary prizes, how we read, the state of translation, literary festivals, academic criticism, and the publishing industry.

The thirty-seven essays, in four sections, ‘The World Around the Book’, ‘The Book in the World’, ‘The Writer’s World’, and ‘Writing Across Worlds’, were originally published as columns in the New York Review of Books. The length of the essays, between one and two thousand words, ensures succinct erudition and a provocative readability, but means that Parks often lacks the space to follow through on his sweeping generalisations.

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Colin Steele

Colin Steele

Colin Steele is Emeritus Fellow of the Australian National University. A former University Librarian at ANU (1980–2002), he is the Convenor of the National Scholarly Communications Forum.

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