Fiction Tim Parks Rapids

ISBN 13: 9780099481386

Rapids

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9780099481386: Rapids

In the dramatic landscape of the Italian Alps a group of English canoeists arrive for an 'introduction to white water.' Camping, eating and paddling together, six adults and nine adolescents seem set to enjoy what their leader insists on calling a 'community experience.' Their hosts are Clive, a taciturn figure, and Michela, his fragile girlfriend. Joining the group late are Vince, a banker trying to make sense of the flotsam of his existence, and his teenage daughter whom he feels moving inexorably away from him. The dangerous river manages to bring out the group's qualities and failings in the most urgent fashion, provoking sudden conflicts and unexpected shifts of alliance. An ideal love affair breaks down and an apparently impossible one timidly buds. A banal disagreement turns violent. Meanwhile, the hottest summer on record is filling the glacier-fed rivers with a melt water so wild that it is surely unwise of the distracted instructors to launch their party into the last day's descent of the upper Aurina...

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About the Author:

Born in Manchester, 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 is the author of novels, non-fiction and essays, including Europa, Cleaver, A Season with Verona and Teach Us to Sit Still. He has won the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask and Llewellyn Rhys awards, and been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He lectures on literary translation in Milan, writes for publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and his many translations from the Italian include works by Moravia, Calvino, Calasso, Tabucchi and Machiavelli.

From Publishers Weekly:

Parks, whose Europa was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, sets his highly engrossing novel on a swollen, swift-moving river in the Italian Alps, where 13 Brits from a London kayak club have come to run the rapids. Vince, a timid, middle-aged banker, recently widowed, serves as the story's center and worries that he won't be able to keep up with the group. He has good reason: Clive, the guide, is a fierce environmentalist and veteran of antiglobalization demonstrations whose frustration with peaceful protests coupled with his shock over the death of two fellow demonstrators leads him to consider—with ominous undertones—doing "something bigger" for the cause. In Clive's wake is Michela, a young Italian whose clinging, worshipful love of Clive renders her increasingly unstable as the trip progresses. Parks keeps the kayaking scenes lively, and he nails the strange hierarchical culture of group trips—and their possibility for implosion. It's part of what transforms Vince, who begins by ruminating over his wife's cryptic last words ("I'm so, so sorry"), but who, over the course of the trip, loses himself in the immediacy of the rushing river, and in Michela, with whom he forges a peculiar bond. It's an urgent, thoughtful and convincing portrayal. (May)
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