Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cleaver” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.33  ·  Rating details ·  184 Ratings  ·  24 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cleaver, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cleaver

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
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
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Neutral positive. No regrets, but no need to read again either.
J.M. Cornwell
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Khristian Vanier
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is written in a very hard-to-follow style, as Cleaver one minute is thinking about something, then is recalling something his son said, then recalling something his wife said, to actually doing something... all within the same paragraph. It took me half the book to finally get an idea of what was going on. Most of the dialogue Cleaver has throughout the book is in German, and it is difficult to figure out what is being said or what is even happening in many situations. I will admit I g ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Maggie Roessler
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
Aug 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Christoph Fischer
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
"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.
Penny Little
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Christian Deysson
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ganz unterhaltsam
Freek Dech
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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?
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Good read. Memorable characters.
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2015
Leon Verschoor
rated it liked it
Sep 07, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jul 28, 2016
rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2013
Marjon Strobbe
rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2011
rated it it was ok
May 18, 2014
rated it liked it
Oct 11, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Going, Going, Gone
  • Grits
  • Strivers Row
  • Love Remains
  • The Pilgrim
  • Daylight
  • Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo
  • Love Creeps
  • The Stalin Epigram
  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai
  • Winterton Blue
  • Eine Frage der Zeit
  • After Annie
  • Basilica
  • Dust
  • Predadores
  • Non so niente di te
  • When They Lay Bare
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
More about Tim Parks...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »