Thursday, October 08, 2009

Interview with James Wood

Nice article and interview in the LA Weekly:
[How Fiction Works] seems very humble, helpful, and earnest in its endeavors. Though that didn’t stop Walter Kirn from painting you as the world’s greatest snob in The Times.

I was bemused by the Walter Kirn attack — that’s diplomatese for “I wanted him dead and bound in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car.” It was the purest American anti-intellectualism: Fiction, he claimed, is about noise on the streets, not words on the page, because words on the page mean ... the library. And that is where I spend all my time, apparently. His review traded in the coarsest binarisms: On one side, according to Kirn, there are [Henry] James and Flaubert, tortured and isolated souls, who spent their lives rubbing nouns and adjectives together in onanistic bliss, and on the other side, there is ... none other than David Foster Wallace! Does Kirn think Wallace did not spend Jamesian amounts of time and energy rubbing together exquisite nouns and adjectives? Of course, he did. Writers who care about language care about such things as nouns and adjectival phrases. They aren’t cowboys — at least, not on the page.

And then there were all the silly things he said about my having a Burberry coat. Alas, he revealed much more about his own social anxieties than he did about my criticism.
Well done.

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