Author of How Fiction Works
James Wood has long established himself as the leading critic of his generation. With The Fun Stuff, he confirms his preeminence not only as a discerning judge, but also as one of fiction's most ardent appreciators. In these twenty-three sparkling dispatches, Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel. He effortlessly connects his encyclopedic understanding of the literary canon—casting his eye upon such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy and Leo Tolstoy—with an equally in-depth analysis of the most important authors writing today, including Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, and Aleksandar Hemon. From the brilliant title essay on Keith Moon and the lost joys of drumming to Wood's incisive piece on the writings of George Orwell, The Fun Stuff is indispensable reading for anyone who cares about contemporary literature.
The Independent (UK) Best Books of the Year
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...
Praise for The Fun Stuff
“No critic gets closer to the text....Exhilarating.” —The New York Times Book Review
“James Wood has been called our best young critic. This is not true. He is our best critic; he thinks with a sublime ferocity.” —Cynthia Ozick
“A captivating collection...Wood enlightens and excites, informs and ignites disagreement. He sends readers back to novels with a heightened awareness of what makes fiction live and breathe.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Stirringly intimate...The fun of Wood's caliber of criticism is his shared enthusiasm. The thrill of these essays is the joy of vivid, intellectual collaboration.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Wood passes a crucial test of criticism: He is unfailingly interesting to read....He opens up new dimensions of the novel he's reading in a way that strands other critics in Flatland.” —Chicago Tribune
“Nabokov famously recommended that ‘as a reader, one should notice and fondle details,' and Wood is something like the critical embodiment of this ideal....An excellent and necessary critic.” —Slate