On Reading “Hysterical Realism”

It seems to me that the most telling detail about the essay is that James Wood apparently considers “a Jewish scientist who is genetically engineering a mouse” to be of the same class of distasteful improbability as “a talking dog”.

5 thoughts on “On Reading “Hysterical Realism”

  1. Neither can I, but there’s really nothing James Wood could say at this point that would surprise me. The man’s definition of what constitutes worthy fiction is so suffocatingly narrow that one wonders whether he finds more than two or three books a year that he can actually enjoy.

  2. Abigail: yes. But he’s so very very very very good at isolating what makes books work for him and advocating for them. I’ve learned more from him about really close reading of sentences than I have from anyone else.

  3. Chance: yeah, sorry. I read it in Wood’s collection of essays, The Irresponsible Self; you can get some idea of what he’s on about by triangulating between this, this, this and this.

    Graham: he’s good at isolating what makes books work (or not) for him. Not so good at advocating.

  4. He got me to buy those Edward St. Aubyn books. Haven’t read enough of his essays to know why he’s so revered though.

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