I realize I’ve been remiss – here James Wood’s How Fiction Works has been out in paperback for weeks now and I haven’t posted anything to mark the occasion! And it reminds me of my remissness on another score: that here amid all the piss-taking I’ve never really offered a positive example of what genuine, serious literary criticism “at the present time” should be.
Fortunately I find that I’m able to kill both those carrion at one throw and get back to the other much more important and interesting things that have been occupying me lately. I’m reposting, in full, the splendid September 14 offering at Fafblog. I just found out about this blog (thanks, comrade Augustine), don’t know anything about the blogger, and doubt that the post was written as any kind of direct response to Wood, but I immediately recognized how well it works as a review of How Fiction Works, and in fact of Joseph O’Neill’s Nitherland or Netherparts or whatever it was and Ian McEwan’s Saturday and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children and for that matter just about any work of contemporary “literary fiction” as well as pretty much all the “criticism” and reviews you’ll read in venues like New Yorker, The New Republic, Entertainment Weekly, Etcetera, Ad Nauseam …
We need less like that, and more like this:
"Once upon a time there was a fafnir and a giblets, and their names were Fafnir and Giblets," says me.