Tim Parks

Literary Birthday – 19 December – Tim Parks

Happy Birthday, Tim Parks, born 19 December 1954.


  1. I usually write straight onto the laptop, re-elaborating endlessly. But when it comes to a novel I work by hand. I love the silence and the rhythm writing by hand. I start each day transcribing the previous day’s work onto the computer, rereading, editing, rewriting. That gets me over the early morning inertia. Then I switch back to paper to push the book on.
  2. Life is simply too short for the wrong books, or even the right books at the wrong time.
  3. We have too much respect for the printed word, too little awareness of the power words hold over us. We allow worlds to be conjured up for us with very little concern for the implications. We overlook glaring incongruities. We are suckers for alliteration, assonance, and rhythm. We rejoice over stories, whether fiction or ‘documentary’, whose outcomes are flagrantly manipulative, self-serving, or both. Usually both.
  4. It took Descartes to deduce that God would not wish to deceive us. The world must be as it appears to be, the Frenchman deduced, because a perfect God would never wish to deceive us. Nothing has been explicable since.
  5. Very few writers today are public figures or deeply engaged in society… Today the only social standing a writer has is how many copies he sells or if he wins prizes. We are losing out as a result because we are losing this intensity of engagement with language and society.
  6. One of the things clearly happening in this period of globalisation is that we are getting a lot more writers writing in very lean styles.
  7. I don’t think literature has been entirely marginalised. The number of books (including novels) sold is higher than at any time, though certainly the written word no longer drives the culture as it once did. That space has been taken by other media.
  8. What wonderful minds we have, even though they don’t seem to get us anywhere, or make us happy.
  9. To recount modern life one has to have characters with iPads and smart phones who take trains and planes, and to be aware how this alters consciousness, identity, and the kind of experiences people have. They are constantly exposed to contact from everyone they know and many they don’t.
  10. It seems obvious that any serious reader will have learned long ago how much time to give a book before choosing to shut it. It’s only the young, still attached to that sense of achievement inculcated by anxious parents, who hang on doggedly when there is no enjoyment.

Tim Parks is a British novelist, translator, and author. He is the author of several works of fiction, including Europa, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize.



Timparks, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 19th December 2013