cover image Cleaver


Tim Parks, . . Arcade, $25 (316pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-855-5

Through terse, confrontational prose, Parks puts on display the self-absorbed and egotistical mind of notable British journalist and womanizer Harold Cleaver. After sticking it to the unnamed (though unmistakable) current president of the United States in a television interview, Cleaver should be on top of the world. But his son’s just-released damning roman-à-clef, In His Shadow , disrupts Cleaver’s life and moment of glory. Cleaver sequesters himself in the German mountains inside a remote, ratty cottage—the former home of a now-deceased Nazi soldier—and finds that while he can flee his fast-paced existence, his psyche is not so easily quieted. With a doll named Olga and a dog named Uli as his only companions, Cleaver finds himself in constant debate about his deceased daughter, Angela, his attempt to replace her through extra-marital affairs, and his son’s betrayal. As Cleaver battles his demons and tries to come to terms with his past, his food supply diminishes and a bruising blizzard rages outside. Parks (Europa ) gives readers a robust protagonist riddled with doubt, and the path he sends him down is both treacherous and cathartic. (Feb.)