Reviews of ‘Shear’

Following Fault Lines

Times Literary Supplement, 10 September 1993

By Nicholas Wroe

Tim Parks is a versatile writer In addition to translations of Calvino, Moravia and Calasso, he writes for the trade journal of the association of Italian Stone Machine Manufacturers. In Shear, his sixth novel, the strands of his literary career come together in a powerful and impressive work.
Peter Nicholson is a geologist, sent by his London office to investigate a quarry on a Mediterranean island for his Australian clients. There is a dispute with the quarry owners, and Nicholson has been briefed to find fault with the site and to write a damning report. He is accompanied on the trip by his young mistress, Margaret, with whom he intends to spend most of the four days, either on the beach or in bed. This plan is soon disrupted, first by the appearance of the widow of an Australian worker killed at the quarry, and then by a fax from his wife informing him that she is pregnant.

Hazel Own, clearly unhinged by grief, is looking for the reason for her husband’s death. With her young daughter in tow, she haunts the quarry and Nicholson’s hotel, asking questions and threatening revenge. Peter’s wife makes it clear that unless he responds quickly and enthusiastically to her news, she will have an abortion. When Nicholson explains the mechanics of a rock fall, he speaks of more than just geology.
‘Imagine a man released from the pressure cooker of home for a week. His heart expands, doesn’t it, his mind opens. Like a sponge when you let go. Well, it’s the same with the rock when you pull it from under the hill and slice it up. Stress relief. And as it expands, it fractures, in a cobweb of tiny cracks. Resistance to shear is reduced, it becomes more fragile.
Shear then occurs when ‘pressure is applied in at least two different and not diametrically opposite directions.’

As Peter, reluctantly, becomes more involved in the dubious activities of the quarry and Hazel’s plight, so his personal tribulations increase in intensity. By the time London instructs him to drop the case, forget his report and come home, it is too late for him to walk away from his tasks. He has already begun the exhausting work of digging deeply into the self and into the mysterious events he has stumbled on.
Parks handles his material with certainty. The intricate geological imagery, although studded by an uninhibited use of industrial and scientific language, is never seen to be crudely bolted to the narrative. The subtle links between client and contractor are illustrated in a range of relationships. The classical allusions are poignant and evocative. This technical mastery allows Parks to present with absolute clarity the complex motivations that drive Peter Nicholson on.

As the moral and emotional pressures intensify, so the imperfections of the rock are mirrored in the characters and the situation. Nicholson is pulled by demands from himself, his wife, the clients, his mistress and his boss. At stake is the marriage, the life of an unborn child, his career, his relationship with Margaret and potentially the lives of many, if the stone he approves for building is not safe. It is inevitable that all decisions and choices will emerge as suspect. Even integrity can be ‘just a cover for escape’.
The dust-jacket quotes a description of Tim Parks as, ‘the best British author today’. On the evidence here, there should be no reason to be so parochial in praising him in future.

48 thoughts on “Reviews of ‘Shear’

  1. Troy Mosseri

    you are actually a good webmaster. The web site loading paceis incredible. It kind of feels that you’re doing any unique trick.In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a great job on this subject!

  2. etimetracklite 10.0 license key crack

    Hey very nice site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Superb .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I am satisfied to find a lot of helpful information here within the put up, we’d like work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  3. hack defender 3

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  4. farmville tropic escape hack

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to grasp so much approximately this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you could do with some to force the message home a little bit, however instead of that, that is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  5. gplink mcent

    Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too fantastic. I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart. I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is actually a great site.

  6. disk drill activation code

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  7. how to get help in windows 10

    Thank you a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually recognize what you’re talking approximately!
    Bookmarked. Please additionally seek advice from my site =).

    We can have a hyperlink exchange contract among us

  8. gamefly free trial

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and
    I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to
    give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  9. Leopoldo Agustino

    Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects? Many thanks!

  10. Free Stuff

    Thanks for your blog post. The things i would like to bring about is that computer memory ought to be purchased but if your computer can no longer cope with that which you do by using it. One can mount two good old ram boards with 1GB each, for example, but not certainly one of 1GB and one having 2GB. One should make sure the maker’s documentation for the PC to be sure what type of memory is needed.

  11. gamefly free trial 2019 coupon

    Pretty component to content. I simply stumbled upon your
    web site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually loved account your
    weblog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing for your feeds and even I
    success you access consistently fast.

  12. ps4 best games ever made 2019

    Admiring the dedication you put into your
    blog and in depth information you provide. It’s
    nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same
    unwanted rehashed material. Great read! I’ve bookmarked
    your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google

  13. quest bars cheap

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact was a leisure account it.

    Look complex to more brought agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep up a

  14. katekowalsky

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

  15. plenty of fish dating site

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I will certainly comeback.

  16. LesIodifs

    Cod Zentel No Prescription Medicine Overseas Low Price Cialis Generique En Pharmacie El Viagra Ayuda A Durar Mas viagra 100mg Viagra Best Price Viagra Purchase

  17. rudemonkcom

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I am hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now 😉

  18. how to get help in windows 10

    First of all I would like to say terrific
    blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.

    I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any suggestions or hints? Thanks!

  19. quest bars cheap 2019 coupon

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put
    in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has
    inspired me to get my own, personal site now ;

  20. quest bars cheap

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
    It’s always interesting to read articles from other authors and use something from their sites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *