I was familiar with Tim Parks writing based upon his books about his life as an expatriate in Italy. He is a dryly funny writer with a real flair for drawing his readers in. This book is no exception, but it is very different than his other non-fiction works. His books on Italy provide a glimpse into the peculiarities of that which is foreign. This book provides a glimpse into that which is familiar; namely, the human body and its processes. But perhaps more significantly, it unflinchingly examines the ability of human beings to live with a dichotomy of self - and what the ultimate consequences of that may be.
If you are uncomfortable with frank descriptions of the body, medical procedures and sexuality, then this book will be a very disturbing one for you, because Parks is frank. Very frank. But if you are able to move past Victorian sensibilities, you will find there is a lot to be learned here. You will probably end up knowing a whole lot more about the prostate gland that you ever wanted to, but because it is integral to the story, it figures prominently into the narrative. Trust the author and stick with him.
When all is said and done, this book is about coming to terms with who we are. It's about Parks experience, but his thoughts, feelings and pain will not seem foreign to most of us.
Take time to explore the train of thought that this book will undoubtedly spark in you as a reader. I didn't come away from reading it feeling like I was dramatically changed - it isn't a prescription for a metaphysical epiphany - but it was thought provoking and unflinchingly honest. It is was a worthwhile read for me, and I believe it will be for you as well.