• In the unspooling sentences and paragraphs of the many fine and often seriously dandy essays that follow in this collection . . . Wood shows himself a maestro of tone and inflection. His sustained close attention as he interrogates the writers he loves is genuinely something to behold

    Tim Adams, Observer
  • The two voices mingling in this collection give a beautiful, moving sense of the stakes of criticism as Wood has practiced it, vigorously, without interruption for 30 years... No modern critic has exerted comparable influence in how we read . . . Wood writes as if enmeshed in the text itself; registering shifts in point of view and perspective with seismographic precision

    Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review
  • James Wood is one of literature’s true lovers, and his deeply felt, contentious essays are thrilling in their reach and moral seriousness

    Susan Sontag
  • Like all good critics, James Wood is a story-teller of the art of reading, recreating the experience on the page for us’

    Francis Spufford
  • Critics like James Wood not only help readers to read but especially, perhaps, help the author as well

    Elena Ferrante
  • James Wood is a close reader of genius... By turns luscious and muscular, committed and disdaining, passionate and minutely considered

    John Banville
  • The most urgent and morally demanding critic around

  • An authentic literary critic, very rare in this bad time… Wood is always urgent, lucid, and interesting

    Harold Bloom
  • Wood writes more incisively than almost anyone producing criticism today. His ability to transform complex, anxious thought into lucid, exciting prose is everywhere present

    Janet Malcolm
  • James Wood has been called our best young critic. This is not true. He is our best critic; he thinks with a sublime ferocity… To enter Wood’s mind is to cross a threshold: from the reviewer commonplaces that pass for essay-writing into the intellectual daring that portends literary permanence

    Cynthia Ozick

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