I admire James Wood greatly, and by “James Wood” I don’t mean the balding, friendly-looking English chap who tap-tap-tap finger drums as only a musically gifted Eton idol can do. And I don’t mean James Wood the novelist whose The Book Against God goes bump in the night. (Creating art is devilishly difficult, after all!) No, I mean James Wood the critic. He’s bloody good — fantastic, really. He writes with insight, seriousness, and a verve bordering on mystical passion. As good as he is, I’m troubled or annoyed or maybe just tuckered out by the staid’n’stale convention within which he writes, as a critic and reviewer of books. You know the drill: title (eye-catching) — intro (witty) — context (helpful) — plot summary (etc.) — quotes (etc.) — commentary & analysis (etc.) — assessment (etc.). The convention is exhausted, no? Unsightly. Like an ugly brown scar on a hillside caused by trundling workers. So. Since I’m neither a critic nor a writer (don’t let this blog fool you), I challenge the eminently gifted yet balding Englishman to introduce a new variation on the old, exhausted theme of book reviews. Instead of arguing about literary excellence, why not borrow sentences, characters, and techniques from novels to describe or evoke the qualia of common, everyday experiences, in the hope that the literary tools of the trade pique curiosity in books, much as a New Yorker book review might do — but without the review. Hmm.
Would that Wood were (1 of 2)