The Fun Stuff, and Other Essays

The Fun Stuff, and Other Essays

Book - 2012
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Following The Broken Estate , The Irresponsible Self , and How Fiction Works --books that established James Wood as the leading critic of his generation-- The Fun Stuff c onfirms Wood's preeminence, not only as a discerning judge but also as an appreciator of the contemporary novel. In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches--that range over such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy, Leon Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov--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, Aleksandar Hemon, and Michel Houellebecq. Included in The Fun Stuff are the title essay on Keith Moon and the lost joys of drumming--which was a finalist for last year's National Magazine Awards--as well as Wood's essay on George Orwell, which Christopher Hitchens selected for the Best American Essays 2010 . The Fun Stuff is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about contemporary literature.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374159566
Branch Call Number: 824 WOOD
Characteristics: viii, 339 pages ; 22 cm

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lukasevansherman
Jan 07, 2014

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.

ser_library Jun 29, 2013

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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