How on earth do you explain this oddly defensive review of James Wood’s How Fiction Works? If Walter Kirn hasn’t read Henry James or Homer, maybe he shouldn’t use the anti-intellectual tropes of mainstream politicos. I mean — Wood “flashes the Burberry lining of his jacket whenever he rises from his armchair to fetch another Harvard Classic”? Really? In Kirn’s estimation, people like Wood who care about literature are “vicarish,” and “sequestered in [their] chamber[s].” How is this different from dismissals of Adlai Stevenson as an “egghead” or Johns Kerry and Edwards for looking and acting “French”? Finally, I’ll give a dollar to anyone who can safely interpret this line: “Part of the fiction writer’s true vocation appears to be acoustic regulation — the engineering of a mental space in which literary whispers can be heard.” With appraisals like this, who needs enemies?

One thought on “

  1. Hey gimme a dollar! I need it for the bus.
    I *THINK* he means that the writer has a particular acuity when it comes to sentences that SOUND RIGHT. But as he himself seems to lack it, it’s a crapshoot.
    Did I earn that dollar?

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