• "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