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About the book
  • Published: 1 April 2014
  • ISBN: 9780099575757
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $22.99

The Fun Stuff and Other Essays




A passionate and effusive outlook on the contemporary literary landscape, from one of its most accomplished critics and appraisers.

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 pre-eminence, 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, Leo Tolstoy, and Edmund Wilson – Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel. He effortlessly connects his encyclopaedic, eloquent understanding of the literary canon with an equally in-depth analysis of the most important authors writing today, including Cormac McCarthy, Kazuo Ishiguro, and V.S. Naipaul.

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.

  • Pub date: 1 April 2014
  • ISBN: 9780099575757
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

James Wood

James Wood has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 2007. In 2009, he won the National Magazine Award for reviews and criticism. He was the chief literary critic at the Guardian from 1992 to 1995, and a book critic at the New Republic from 1995 to 2007. He has published a number of books with Cape, including How Fiction Works, which has been translated into thirteen languages.

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Praise for The Fun Stuff and Other Essays

“This is a masterclass in the art of reading.”

Robert Murphy, Metro

“Wood is the most engaging of current commentators on literature.”

John Sutherland, Spectator

“Impressive breadth of reading (especially contemporary East Europeans here) and perceptively close attention to texts.”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

“It is a pleasure to follow his education and learn something in turn.”

Economist

“The gift of the great critic is to be able to explain complex concepts to the reader in a manner that is neither bamboozling nor patronising... Wood has this gift.”

Andrew Anthony, Observer

“Shot through with his characteristic light humour and moral seriousness, each expertly constructed paragraph rich with metaphorical insight.”

David Annand, Sunday Telegraph

“The minor flaws here, then, are reassurance that Wood is merely one of the finest critics around.”

Peter Carty, Independent on Sunday

“All these essays are shot through with his characteristic light humour and moral seriousness, each expertly constructed paragraph rich with metaphorical insight.”

Telegraph

“This is a book that's impossible to read without gaining a greater appreciation of what it means to write well, both in the case of the work under review and, just as pleasurably, the reviews themselves”

Andrew Anthony, Observer

“A passionate and instructive case for great writing.”

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard

“A source of continuous enjoyment.”

Craig Raine, New Statesman

“The Fun Stuff displays the steely verve that makes James Wood's criticism thrilling for literature specialists and general readers alike.”

Max Liu, Independent

“This collection is, as the title suggests, a lot of fun. Even when you disagree with his judgements, it's impossible not to be dazzled by the breadth of his reading.”

Claire Lowden, Sunday Times

“[A] seriously enjoyable collection of essays by the New Yorker's resident literary critic”

Sunday Telegraph

“James Wood writes superbly about writing”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“This scintillating collection offers trenchant analysis and original insight into the works of a wide range of important writers”

Mail on Sunday

“Viewed through Wood's eyes, even the best-known novels appear before us looking naked and strange”

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Guardian

“[Wood's] encyclopaedic knowledge and compact, energetic prose makes him an illuminating and acerbic guide to literary giants”

Big Issue in the North

“[Wood] delivers some golden insights”

Fachtna Kelly, Sunday Business Post

“[Wood's] insight into writing is impressive and the sheer joy that he takes in others' literary dexterity is infectious”

Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday

“A panoramic look at the modern novel”

Observer


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