The Fun Stuff, In Praise of Wayne Booth

Couple of links to writing of mine appearing elsewhere this week. First off, my critical appraisal of James Wood’s latest collection of literary fiction, The Fun Stuff, appearing at The Barnes & Noble Review.

And secondly, the University of Chicago Press asked me to write an appreciation of one of its authors for its blog. Without any hesitation I volunteered Wayne Booth, a critic anyone will benefit from reading. Booth wrote two incredible books on the art of fiction—The Rhetoric of Fiction and A Rhetoric of Irony—in addition to sundry other books that should continue to be read. The book I focus on for U of C is Modernist Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, which I think is hugely relevant to our own belief-seeking, post-ironic, newly sincere times.

Incidentally, the book has one of the best cover photos I can remember seeing, ever. It was the photo (plus Booth’s name, obviously) that got me to pick up the book to begin with. When that copy (a discard at a library booksale) proved full of highlighter marks and mold (not to mention a cracking spine), I persevered and found another copy. And I’m a better person for having done so.

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So delighted to see this. You are right on all counts. Great book, great book for these neo-times and great book cover. (Booth may have had a hand in choosing it, not sure). He was my prof and dissertation advisor at UC. More cheers for you.


Great choice. Wayne Booth is one of my favourite critics. Caption contest for Modern Dogma cover?



The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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