On Criticism

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At The Awl, Maria Bustillos breaks down the back-and-forth between Jonathan Lethem and James Wood over Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, interpreting both Wood’s original review and Lethem’s recent response. Ruminating on the possibility of improved communication between authors, readers, and critics, Bustillos locates where the process of reading is “working” for both authors.

“This speaks to the idea of inclusion, of including readers and critics, including authors, in the whole cultural practice of reading and understanding; and honoring all in whatever limitations we may respectively bring. To find the place where we can agree and enjoy good things together. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the carping or snark that is the most fun and interesting element of good criticism, it is the moment of clarity. The hand-in-hand moment.”


Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →