ERIC Number: EJ808825
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Aug-8
How James Wood Works
Goldstein, Evan R., Comp.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n48 pB4 Aug 2008
Reading through news-media clippings about James Wood, one might reasonably conclude that "pre-eminent critic" is his official job title. In fact, Wood is a staff writer for "The New Yorker" and a professor of the practice of literary criticism at Harvard University. But at a time when there is much hand-wringing about the death of the professional critic in the era of blogs and Oprah's Book Club, Wood does occupy a uniquely influential perch in the world of literature, managing to forge a career in that sparsely populated space between academe and journalism. As one admirer put it, Wood's review essays are events. So it is little surprise that Wood's new book, "How Fiction Works"--which he describes as a "patient primer" on the art of fiction--has garnered attention both in print and online. Wood, who is often heralded as a practical antidote to the sort of abstract theorizing that predominates in many English departments, has been the subject of a vigorous debate: not just about the quality of his criticism, but also about the scope of his cultural authority. It is a debate that Wood himself has felt compelled to join. This paper presents how reviewers and bloggers grapple with the prominent literary critic's new book, and the role it might play in shaping fiction.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A