Tim Parks' "Bedtimes" was originally published in the December 21 & 28, 2015 issue of The New Yorker. Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.
The New Yorker closes out 2015 with another story — one that is relatively short, a ten-minute read — by Tim Parks. Parks last showed up in the magazine as recently as October with “Vespa,” a story that generated mixed thoughts reviews here in the discussion. I myself quite liked it, and I quite like Parks, but not everyone feels that way.
I’m anxious to see how folks respond to this, uh, holiday offering from The New Yorker, the tale of Thomas and Mary and their family and the vast distance between them as they wander around the same home, half hoping the someone else will have the desire to connect, but the bed is the perfect escape to avoid just that contact. Here’s a snippet:
So as not to have to pretend to be asleep again, which he finds painful, he goes to bed early. Mary joins him at 11:30 and hardly cares whether he is asleep or not, since she has nothing to say to a man who she believes is having an affair.
Here are Adrienne’s thoughts to get the discussion going.
Tim Parks again? Really? Was there nothing else? Did the editors of The New Yorker find this to be such an amazing piece? Are they pushing Tim Parks’ new novel (it includes this story as well as “The Vespa,” the fiction published in the magazine just a couple of months ago)?
I did not like “The Vespa,” and the feeling remains the same with “Bedtimes.” The writing is simple, and as Mr. Parks declares himself, “mechanical” with “monosyllabic repetition.” This was his artistic choice! He says he hopes readers find this story “funny” . . .
Sorry, Mr. Parks. I found no humor — no acerbic sarcasm, no raw irony, nothing laugh-out-loud, and certainly no wry internal grimace.
“Bedtimes” has potential to be expanded and there’s a lot of “showing,” but this story feels like a catalog of stage directions. It is dry and unoriginal. I cannot connect with such two dimensional characters; I feel nothing for them.
I am glad this tale was so short . . .