" . . . in How Fiction Works, James Wood has written an establishment polemic in the guise of aesthetics . . ."
A terrific discussion of Wood's ideologically tendentious conception of realism and reality by Tony Christini over at A Practical Policy, where Wood is placed - correctly, to my mind - in the critical camp of what used to be called the Cold War liberals, as a kind of latter-day Lionel Trilling.
Before I read Christini's post I was unaware that Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic (and thus Wood's editor during his stint at that publication) had edited a volume of Trilling's essays. Christini continues:
"then in 2004 [Wieseltier] promptly hatcheted the first prominent novel critical of the US invasion of Iraq. Even before release for sale by its publisher, Checkpoint, the proclaimed (yet self-nullifying) antiwar short novel from established writer Nicholson Baker, was denounced in 2004 by the New Republic’s literary editor Wieseltier in the New York Times, in easily one of the longest “reviews” the book received, as “This scummy little book,” which opened his review and set the tone of Wieselstier’s screed, a fraudulent and hypocritical defense of capitalism and subservient literature."
Wood's itinerary in the United States has been in the orbit of "liberal hawks" like Wieseltier, ostensible liberals who supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq (and - no coincidence - who generally tend to be big Zionists). These include among their number not only Wieseltier at the New Republic but also Peter Beinart and, of course, owner and chief editor Martin Peretz, and now at the New Yorker there's his new boss, David Remnick, as well as George Packer.