I do like reading books about books and reading, and in this collection of essays and articles drawn from the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks, extolls the virtues of reading, asks why we hate the books our friends love and tries to fathom just how a Nobel prize winner is selected. Other questions that he considers include: why finish books, the dull new global novel, what the writers job actually is and can we learn to speak American.
All of these thing are interesting questions about a variety of subjects on reading, writing and awards, and Parks is not afraid to be provocative in answering them. He advocates rethinking the purpose of a book, what it is for, why we read it and the perils of the homogenisation of languages and the slide towards one world culture. He puts his strong opinions in a short, to the point essay style making it easy to dip into and to find a particular point he was making. I have only read An Italian Education by him so far and sadly wasn’t aware that he was a novelist as well as a translator, critic and professor of literature. He is quite well placed to make these observations and he draws on his skills to write these articles. Sadly thought there were flaws; whilst some were amusing and easy to read, others were very academic, esoteric and dry to read, which is a shame as some of the articles were superb. 3.5 stars overall.