So if you were here yesterday you probably saw this what I wrote about a couple of literary kerfuffles surrounding the critic James Wood. Since then, two smart other people have written about the same thing: Maria Bustillos at The Awl and Sam Allingham at The Millions. Both of them treat the subject with suitable charm and gravity, and agree, essentially, that Lethem was perhaps misguided in making his complaint against Wood. Interesting point from Bustillos: Wood’s review of Lethem’s book was actually really quite nice, giving fulsome praise to his prose and quoting it approvingly at length. This quoting is what Allingham picks up on: he notes that Wood is assiduous in providing examples of writing to illustrate what he’s saying. Lethem’s failure in his criticism of Wood is that he makes a lot of assertions like “When he pans, his tone is often passive-aggressive, couched in weariness, even woundedness. Just beneath lies a ferocity which seems to wish to restore order to a disordered world,” without actually providing examples that show this.
I have no more commentary to offer on these two critiques of a review of a critic in response to an eight-year-old review of a book I have not read.