Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is a one-sentence book. Just saying.
Like Hasek, Hrabal kept his ear close to the pub table. He sat for hours in his favourite Prague establishment, the Golden Tiger, listening to beer-fed stories foam. Those who knew him recall a man who liked to pass himself off as a beer-drinker rather than a writer, content to sit silently and gather – the community’s generous beggar. Ondrej Danajek wrote a eulogy for Hrabal in 1997, and remembers ‘a very spiritual artist and free-thinker with the ways and looks . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I've read the first few essays in Love and Death in the American Novel, and now I will wholly endorse the notion that I should have got on the Fiedler wagon earlier. The breadth of knowledge (far beyond literature) and synthesis thereof is simply incredible . . . talk about someone who sounds like he's read everything and knows just how to put it into a cohesive framework. This is the kind of oracular voice that I think we all wish James Wood (who, admittedly, seems to have read everything) was.
Or, to put this all another way, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
For all of you who thought Richard Powers got an unfair review, Wood now lashes into A.S. Byatt’s new novel:
Whenever a detail could be selected at the expense of another one, Byatt will always prefer to buy both, and include the receipts: ‘Art Nouveau, the New Art, was paradoxically backward-looking, flirting with the Ancient of Days, the Sphinx, the Chimera, Venus under the Tannenberg, Persian peacocks, melusines and Rhine maidens, along with hairy-legged Pan and draped and dangerous Oriental priestesses’. There is always an atmosphere of the author reporting for intellectual duty, bristling . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m one of those people who has fallen off the Richard Powers bus. When I first read him I had a very favorable impression, but the more I’ve read him the more that impression has been scraped away–and the more I’ve questioned my original readings of Powers.
There’s no doubt that the man can come up with some remarkably clever premises for his novels, and at times he shows a strong facility for structure, but he just doesn’t have the heart of a writer in him.
In his review of Generosity, Powers’ new book, James Wood says . . . continue reading, and add your comments
With the publication of James Wood’s new book in England, we can already see the beginnings of the coverage that will soon attend its publication over here. In other words, more attention for the one literary critic in America who actually gets attention.
To me this seems unfair. Yes, Wood rightly deserves some attention, but he certainly doesn’t deserve this de facto coronation as the only thing going. Moreover, focusing on one critic to the exclusion of others is contrary to the idea of literary criticism, which thrives on a polyphonic chorus of competing voices.
In that . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m always happy to see a new James Wood essay, except when I’ve already seen it. Reading his piece in Prospect, Realism Rules (still), I was seized by déjà vu. Hadn’t I read this somewhere?
Yes, in fact I had. It was published earlier this year in The New Republic (in a much longer version) as The Blue River of Truth.
Compare the opening grafs.
Here are two recent statements about literary realism, statements so typical of their age that a realist novelist would have been proud to have imagined them into life. . . . continue reading, and add your comments