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3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Overweight and overwrought, Howard Cleaver, London's most successful journalist, abruptly abandons home, partner, mistresses and above all television, the instrument that brought him identity and power. It is the autumn of 2004 and Cleaver has recently enjoyed the celebrity attending his memorable interview with the President of the United States and suffered uncomfortable ...more
Published February 1st 2007 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2006)
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Dismember by Daniel PyleThe Subtle Knife by Philip PullmanMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Sword of Shannara by Terry BrooksEye of the Needle by Ken Follett
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I’m a fan of Tim Parks’ writing, but this one didn’t quite work for me. Great premise: older, high profile media celebrity--think British Dan Rather--decides to leave his career and his conflicted relationships with his wife and son, and retreat alone to a remote, media free cabin in the Swiss Alps. I was more interested in his adjustment to solitude than his withdrawal from media, and there just wasn’t enough of the former. I didn’t finish it but I’m glad I tried.

Sample quote: “Words mean less
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J.M. Cornwell
International media personality goes into hiding in the wake of character assassination.

For the first time in his life, Harold Cleaver breaks with his usual diffident and even-handed manner and rakes the American president over the coals in a televised interview. Why? His son Alex’s book, Under His Shadow, billed as fiction, mercilessly lampoons and harpoons the corpulent Cleaver’s secrets and habits. What can he do now?

Feeling raw and exposed, Cleaver travels to the Alps on the Swiss-Italian
Lynne Spreen
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The premise of this vaguely reminded me of my own three night trip to the Fortress of Solitude. So, there's that.

This never quite revved up for me. Not bad, not great. I was annoyed by all the German being said. I realize that may be a part of the point, to put us in a disorientation similar to Cleaver, but... see, that's why I've never gone to a country where they don't speak English. To me it's the Horror of Horrors that someone will talk to me, or that I'll read a sign, and not understand it.
Okay to be honest, I picked up this book as I haven't read any of Tim Parks' novels but that of his interesting articles on the nybooks blog. In Cleaver, the reader is invited to whirl around Harold Cleaver's son's word vomit stacked under a fictional book that results in Cleaver to abscond. It starts off with poise but as we progress, it remains hazy and the subject of alienation waits there in long digressions dozing in the Rosenkranzhof packed with nothing but a bunch of European strangers Cl ...more
A well written novel that has all the earmarks of greatness including a intellectual with an internal crisis, mountains, and people speaking German.

I stopped at around page 125.

I think that at another point (maybe even a few months ago) I would have read this cover to cover- and I might still someday- but at this point in my life I'm suffering from an overload of work and commitments and the novel- which is essentially a map of the main character's (Harold Cleaver') soul- is too slow and too tho
Susanna Rose
I didn't find Harold's obsession anywhere near as compelling as Jerry's in Europa. It also peeved me that he had only read his son's book once, yet could quote long passages from the entire thing by heart. Still, it was an entertaining cynical look at what happens when the rich retreat into isolated scenic spots to try and purify themselves.

Parks writes a fair amount of dialogue in German and in an Austrian dialect, I wonder what the novel would be like if that was all gibberish to me - might b
Philip Raby
I almost gave up on this book, as it plodded along with no direction. However, towards the end it got my attention only to reward me with a disappointing ending.

The concept is good but spoilt by the pretentious writing style. It jumps from past to present tense within sentences, goes from first to third person and, most annoyingly, the spoken dialogue isn't contained within speech marks. I cannot see the point of this, it's bad grammar and makes the book harder to read without adding anything. B
Christian Deysson
Ganz schön enttäuschend. Hatte mir vom diesem Autor und vom deutschen Titel "Stille" mehr und Nachdenklicheres erwartet als die geschwätzige Introspektion eines eingebildeten, selbstverliebten Affen, der sich obendrein auch nach einem Fünftel des Buches immer noch nicht entscheiden kann, ob er seine SMS auf dem Handy öffnet oder nicht. Genug... Ich höre jetzt mit dem Lesen auf.
Penny Little
This novel irritated me at first as it jumps from past to present tense frequently and even in sentences. However as I persisted I found that it worked for this story, as did the short sentences in German and Austrian. It portrayed the mixed up mind of the main character well, even though I thought he was rather a pain.
Christoph Fischer
"Cleaver" by Tim Parks was a perfectly fine book with a lot of wit and power of observation but for some reason or another I just could not get into the character and his personal crisis. It might be a case of wrong expectations but unlike Park's other work, which I love, this was comparatively un-engaging.
Freek Dech
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Think of the most annoying talking head on TV. Would you want to read an entire story about him as he "finds himself" somewhere in the mountains?
Oct 22, 2008 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Gilead
It is rare to read a book that delves this deeply into the consciousness of its main character. A brilliant study of estrangement.
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Did not read to the end.
The writing and structure of the storytelling in this book was note-worthy. Indeed, I wish I were able to write like Tim Parks. But the story fell apart at the 3/4 mark, and the end was a great big flat balloon. Still, lots of good reason to read this book, especially if you're a writer studying craft.
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Born in Manchester in 1954, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. In 1981 he moved to Italy where he has lived ever since. He has written eleven novels including Europa, Destiny, Cleaver and, most recently, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, as well as three non-fiction accounts of life in northern Italy (most recently A Season with Verona), a collection of 'narrative' essays, ...more
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