There’s a nice post over at CultureSpace that looks at the pitfalls implicit in the characters of Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, David Foster Wallace, and other of our “hyper” authors. Specifically, Michael picks up on James Wood’s critique of “shiny externality”:
creating elements that are all surface, “all caricature.” Part of this critique presupposes that fiction is, to an extent, an operation of characters’ psychology (Wood does allude to Henry James, after all); their interiority gives them depth.
He applies this standard to a character in one of Smith’s short stories, “The Trials of Finch”, and argues that Smith creates true empathy through this shiny externality.
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