In Extremis must be one of the most implacable, but also one of the funniest, novels about death and family that have ever been written.
Thomas knows there is something he needs to say to his mother. But will he reach her in time? And will he have the courage to say now what he couldn’t say before? To what end disturb a woman in agony? Meantime his phone is buzzing, his mind racing and he can’t concentrate on the significance of what is happening. Should he try to solve his friend’s family crisis? Should he reconsider his separation from his wife? Why has Mother’s passing left him so utterly confused and paralysed?
In his most exhilarating book to date, Tim Parks explores how profoundly our present identity is rooted in our family past. Can anything can be done? Will Thomas ever be free to choose the woman he loves? These are pages where the drama of selfhood and the yearning for change are put under the microscope as never before.
In Extremis is simply spellbinding and quite unique in my reading experience; very funny and very existential, compact and chatty, complicated and raw. Every scene has a poignancy, everything is powerfully visual. The rich language flows in an unbroken rhythm, seamlessly connecting one moving episode after another. Parks has written a masterpiece!
What a book! This is what a novel should be – gusty, moving, funny, tragic, true – and with a syntax to die for. Tim Parks is in a league of his own. He makes every other English author of his generation look lame. IN EXTREMIS, in exacting detail, depicts the naked truth of marriage and aging, sex and death, family. Brilliant, brutal and all too quick – like life.
A brilliant study, both psychological and physiological, of a male human being in late middle age: darkly funny, searingly honest, unputdownable.
A thrillingly unsentimental—thrilling because unsentimental—meditation on every aspect and orifice of the human body.