April 25 The New Republic.
How does one become an establishment lit-critic? Maybe by groveling to the established literary gods. James Wood proves he can grovel with the best of them.
Listen to the man gush:
"--he made even the fleet-footed-- the Updikes, the DeLillos, the Roths-- seem like monopodes." (This makes sense only if you have a high opinion of these three authors as stylists. I don't. One is overblown flatulence; one is lifeless cardboard; one is ordinary.)
Wood applauds the alleged "high lyricism" of Bellow's prose.
"How, exactly, does one thank a writer for this?"
Wood gives a personal note. (Here comes the groveling.)
"Over the years, I wrote about him again and again and visited him whenever I could. . . ."
"My daughter played with his . . . I accompanied him on the piano while he played the recorder . . . and to laugh with him when he was making a joke." "--'ha,ha,ha,ha,' each laugh separately articulated." (Exactly how many ways can one suck-up? James Wood gives them all. I highly recommend his article for ambitious demi-puppets.)
At the end of the piece we can only conclude that Saul Bellow was the greatest novelist ever. Unmentioned is the fact that he was the leading icon of American fiction at a time of American literature's steep decline. No connection is considered or allowed. All that matters is the critic's sterling relationship with the author: "--he was grateful for this, and perhaps grateful for my gratitude."
Now we know. Who's responsible for Bellow's overblown reputation? THERE'S the guy: James Wood, sycophantic lit-critic at New Republic.
Let's view what a videocam recorded of one of the historic meetings between critic Wood and cherished author Saul Bellow. Bellow is the old guy slowly entering the room, Wood the person crawling swiftly on all fours to meet him.
The Groveler of Grovelers. No one can top him. Sven Birkerts, look out! Here comes James Wood scampering across the rug.