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The Fun Stuff, and Other Essays

Wood, James, 1965- (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Fun Stuff, and Other Essays


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In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches--which range over such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov--literary critic James Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel. He effortlessly connects his encyclopedic, passionate understanding of the literary canon with an equally in-depth analysis of the most important authors writing today, including Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, and Aleksandar Hemon.
Authors: Wood, James, 1965-
Statement of Responsibility: James Wood
Title: The fun stuff, and other essays
Publisher: New York :, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: viii, 339 p. ;,22 cm.
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Report This Jan 07, 2014
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

New Yorker book critic James Wood, who also wrote "How Fiction Works," is unapologetically highbrow, which isn't to say that he's showy or arrogant. Even as a former lit major, I sometimes had trouble following him in this collection of essays, which covers contemporary writers like Ian McEwan and Cormac McCarthy, as well as classic authors like Tolstoy, Hardy and Orwell. The only negative essay here is about Paul Auster, whom he lambastes for being shallow and a "fake realist." There are a number of pieces that seem included just to show that he's read obscure authors you'll never read. Laszlo Krasznahorkhai anyone? Or how about "Ismail Kadare was born in Gjirokaster"? He could've totally made up that author and I wouldn't know. I did find it a little frustrating that his taste is so uniformly "literary," with no interest in genre or anything remotely pop. The title essay is about Keith Moon's drumming and may be included to show that he has more common interests, but he approaches the subject in a technical and dry manner at odds with Moon's unhinged drumming and madman persona.

Report This Jun 29, 2013
  • ser_library rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

insightful essays on books and writers, best appreciated if you have read the original authors. I read and learned from essays on Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, Lydia Davis, the Bible... and now have much more reading to do. It does not include essays on James Joyce or others that i should have read. Jane Austen and Henry James are mentioned often.

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Wood, James, 1965-
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