The Fun Stuff

And Other Essays

James Wood

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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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 confirms 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.

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Book Excerpts

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THE FUN STUFF: HOMAGE TO KEITH MOON
 
 
I had a traditional musical education, in a provincial English cathedral town. I was sent off to an ancient piano teacher with the requisite halitosis, who lashed with a ruler at my knuckles as if they were wasps; I added the trumpet a few years later and had lessons with a younger, cheerier man, who told me that the best way to make the instrument “sound” was to imagine spitting paper pellets down the mouthpiece at the school bully. I sang daily in the cathedral choir, an excellent grounding in sight-reading and performance.

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Praise for The Fun Stuff

“Wood is one of the best readers writing today. Devouring these pieces back to back feels like having a long conversation about books with your most erudite, articulate, and excitable friend. To read his essays on the works of Norman Rush, Aleksandar Hemon, Leo Tolstoy, or Lydia Davis is to relive the specific brand of joy created by a particular work of genius. Wood’s reviews are never just evaluations; more often they are passionate, sensitive discourses on the variations of authorial voice, the nature of memory, or the burden of biography. … Wood’s veneration of virtuosity reminds why we’re reading at all—because we still believe that it’s possible to find transcendence in great art. Isn’t it fun to think so?” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Wood is now unquestionably one of the most influential voices in contemporary literary criticism.” —The Millions
 
“Literary criticism sometimes takes itself too seriously, so it’s a pleasure to see that preeminent literary critic Wood’s very title reminds us what literature is really about: fun. Here he offers his heartfelt views on writers ranging from Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy, and Mikhail Lermontov to Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, and Michel Houellebecq. . . Get ready for some bracing delights.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal


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About the Author

James Wood

James Wood is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer at Harvard University. He is the author of How Fiction Works, as well as two essay collections, The Broken Estate and The Irresponsible Self, and a novel, The Book Against God, all published by FSG.

James Wood

©Miriam Berkley
James Wood

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Fun Stuff
And Other Essays
James Wood

Award

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e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 2012
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780374709068
ISBN10: 0374709068
352 pages
$9.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 2012
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374159566
ISBN10: 0374159564
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 352 pages
$27.00

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
October 2013
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250037831
ISBN10: 1250037832
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 352 pages
$17.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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