View spoiler Bettie s Books hide spoiler In Whit Stillman s film Metropolitan one of his characters states proudly during one of the film s interminable cocktail parties I don t read novels I prefer good literary criticism That way you get both the novelists ideas as well as the critics thinking It s of course an absurd moment but I ve always imagined that James Wood s criticism would be ust the sort he had in mind The essays in this collection are so compelling and comprehensive I don t think I actually need to read W G Sebold or Revolution Road or V S Naipaul but am ready to move straight to discussing them confidently at a cocktail party However the funnest stuff were the essays on subjects in which I already had an interest such as War Peace Lermontov s sadly under read classic Hero of our Time Cormac McCarthy Robert Alter and the KJV and in the book s most surprising piece a fabulous thoughtful essay on The Who s drummer Kieth Moon In each of these essays Wood showed me knew ways of looking at something that was already very fami. Following The Broken Estate The Irresponsible Self and How Fiction Works books that established James Wood as the leading critic of his generation The Fun Stuff confirms Wood's preeminence not only as a discerning udge but also as an appreciator of the contemporary novel In twenty three passionate sparkling dispatches that range over such crucial write.
Liar to me For example Tolstoy s odd descriptions and imagery in the battle scenes were written purposefully to show the incomprehensible nature of war Again and again this novel reverses the martial tapestry and shoves the dull clumsy illegible tufts of thread at us Or this on Kieth Moon in one sentence explaining to me why as a teenager I was so captivated by him He was the drums not because he was the most technically accomplished of drummers but because his many armed oyous semaphoring lunacy suggested a man possessed by the antic spirit of drumming Fun stuff indeed Keith Moon is not one of my favorite people But James Wood is so when I borrowed from the library his new book The Fun Stuff and Other Essays thinking it was essays of literary criticism which it is mostly I read the first essay in the book the title essay even though it s about Keith Moon If you had asked me a week ago who he was I might possibly have been able to bring up a rock musician but I might not What instrument he played and for what group blank To read the re. Rs as Thomas Hardy Leon Tolstoy Edmund Wilson and Mikhail Lermontov Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel He effortlessly connects his encyclopedic passionate understanding of the literary canon with an eually in depth analysis of the most important authors writing today including Cormac McCarthy Lydia Davis Aleksandar Hemon and Michel Houelle.
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St of my review go to my blog at I listened to the audiobook This is a series of essays by James Wood renowned literary critic who still writes as staff writer for The New Yorker and was the chief literary critic for The Guardian for many years He writes beautifully and you can hear that he is someone who lives and breathes literature It s a delight to hear his thoughts about various authors he tends to review authors as opposed to single books at least in these essays referencing many works in a single essay George Orwell Ian McEwan Cormac McCarthy Paul Auster Marilynne Robinson Alexandar Harmon Ismail Kadare are some of the authors reviewed in this collection Most essays sound fair and positive tow This was well written and engaging I like James Wood I wouldn t call his work amazing but certainly well worth the time to read him He writes in an easy manner and seems uite personable which I always think is a good thing unless you are somebody like Thomas Bernhard and you have a bone to pick and then a certain amount of rancor is reuire. Bec Included in The Fun Stuff are the title essay on Keith Moon and the lost oys of drumming which was a finalist for last year's National Magazine Awards as well as Wood's essay on George Orwell which Christopher Hitchens selected for the Best American Essays 2010 The Fun Stuff is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about contemporary literature.
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James Douglas Graham Wood is an English literary critic essayist and novelist He is currently Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University a part time position and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazineWood advocates an aesthetic approach to literature rather than ideologically driven trends in academic literary criticismWood is noted for coining the genre t