Guy's Reviews > How Fiction Works

How Fiction Works by James    Wood
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
May 11, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: litcrit
Read in May, 2008

Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh with three stars. For a work of LitCrit theory, "How Fiction Works" is excellent -- much clearer than is usual in the field, using jargon sparsely, reading texts closely rather than ideologically, and even leavening analyses with a dash of humour from time to time.

However, although I found myself agreeing most of the time (which, being not underendowed with arrogance, I take to be a good thing :-), there weren't many insights which blew me away. Most of what Wood had to say seemed like solid technical analysis, but not of wide, general interest.

Frankly, the book is nuts-and-bolts level LitCrit theory, and unless you are or aspire to be a literary critic yourself, or are a writer with an analytic bent, you probably won't find it engrossing.

But, in my (admittedly limited) experience, it is very rare that a writer of LitCrit rises to the level of engrossing. Harold Bloom comes to mind as one who does, and, in the related area of film criticism, so does Roger Ebert. It is possible that Wood could come close to this level when analysing a single author or work, but not when he is focussing on theory.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read How Fiction Works.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.