The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood

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The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood

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Category: Reference
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Rachael Shanks
Reviewed by Rachael Shanks
Summary: James Wood's eclectic range of subjects won't appeal to all readers, but lovers of literature will delight in his insightful reviews.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 337 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099575757

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The Fun Stuff and Other Essays provides, as the title suggests, a panoramic sampling of James Wood’s critical writing. A popular and oft-quoted writer, the essays collected here offer stimulating insights into Wood’s chosen subjects.

Although the twenty-three essays collected here cover a broad range of subjects, the outstanding pieces are dedicated to literature. Wood consolidates his reputation as a renowned literary critic; his essays on contemporary fiction reveal an incisive understanding of modern culture. Writing on such authors as Kazuo Ishiguro, Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan, Wood proves himself to be an astute reader. Although his ideas are often complex, his writing itself is accessible to general readers. The essays explore the deeper meanings of contemporary fiction: Wood is not only interested in what we can learn about literature, but what literature can tell us about ourselves. This collection will convince you of the relevance of modern fiction. Wood is able to draw easy parallels between books and films, creating an all-encompassing theory of modern culture.

The collection draws its title from Wood’s essay on Keith Moon, the beloved drummer of The Who. This lengthy piece proves that Wood is an uncommonly versatile writer, but it also highlights the only flaw I found with this collection. It’s difficult to imagine who would be interested in reading every essay in The Fun Stuff, as it covers such a wide variety of subjects. Keen readers will delight in his insightful essays on fiction, but will perhaps skim over his musings on Keith Moon and the dilemma of rehoming all his father-in-law’s books, while others will perhaps prefer to dip in and out of the collection as it interests them.

Although James Wood’s prose itself is unparalleled, readers looking for more focused essays could try Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill. Or if Wood’s essays inspire you to read more of your favourite authors, I’d highly recommend The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Buy The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Fun Stuff and Other Essays by James Wood at Amazon.com.

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