I wish to attack myself for something I wrote in the October issue. Towards the end of my short essay on David Foster Wallace, I took a wild swipe out of nowhere at James Wood, one of the finest literary critics of the age. To explain, but not excuse: I was upset and angered by Wallace’s unhappy and premature death. At such times, we strike out blindly.
My attack was also partly the result of extreme overcompression, as I tried to jam about a book’s worth of ideas into the single page available. (In modest, 1/16 scale homage to Wallace’s famously jammed, crammed, gargantuan essays.) Thus a long, nuanced sequence of subtle, gossamer-delicate thoughts on the subject of critic and author, worthy of late-period Henry James, got reduced to a blow from a brick in a sock.
Though I do disagree with some of James Wood’s notions, I don’t disagree nearly as strongly as was implied in my rude and unfair sentence. On rereading it, I am appalled. I take it back, and I would like to apologise to Mr Wood for kicking him in the knee from behind.