James Wood is often called the best critic of his generation. He looks back at his own career, from writing brutal take-downs at the Guardian to his current perch at The New Yorker, and tells us why genre fiction makes him "anxious."
Here's an excerpt:
Steve Paulson: Is a critic basically a very good reader?
James Wood: I think so. There’s a pleasing amateurism about literary criticism despite the fact that it’s now enshrined in university programs. A professor of literature at some fancy university is not necessarily a better noticer than an ordinary reader. The advantage, of course, is that the professional reader has a broad scholarly knowledge. But there’s not much more that you can do as a critic than try to train your noticing, and to read a lot so you can do comparative reading.