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 preeminence, 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, Leon Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov—Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel. He effortlessly connects his encyclopedic, passionate understanding of the literary canon with an equally in-depth analysis of the most important authors writing today, including Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, Aleksandar Hemon, and Michel Houellebecq. 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.
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Repeatedly in these 25 essays, his eye singles out those moments where writers outdo themselves...This is fiction's fun stuff, and Wood is an impressive guide through it: learned and puckish, sympathetic and stringent.Read Full Review of The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays | See more reviews from Guardian
It means that 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.Read Full Review of The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays | See more reviews from Guardian
James Wood is that wonderful thing: the academic who still loves the topic of his study.Read Full Review of The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
It is a pleasure to follow his education, and to learn something in turn.Read Full Review of The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays | See more reviews from The Economist
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Rated the book as 5 out of 5