Sunday, October 26, 2008

Literary Criticism 101

Let me mention, if you haven't already read it, the editor of The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus, has written a review of John Updike's latest novel The Widows of Eastwick, that occupies the cover page of this Sunday's issue. It is richly contextualized by a thorough reading of Updike's large body of work, a well-informed cultural perspective, and is warmly appreciative of Updike's writing. It sent me immediately to the New York Public Library website to reserve a few books. Tanenhaus writes the kind of literary criticism I can only aspire to:
The genius inheres in the precise observation, in the equally precise language, but above all in the illusion that the image has been received and processed in real time, when in truth Updike has slowed events to a dreamlike pace and given them a dream's hyperreality, so that the distinction between the actual and the imagined feels erased.

That is a hell of a sentence, and aspire I will.


Julia Phillips Smith said...

One of these days you'll realize that you've made someone else aspire to write literary criticism like you.

Ted said...

Thanks for that generous compliment, JS.