An interview with the literary critic Dwight Garnerby David Wolf / October 15, 2013 / Leave a comment
Dwight Garner is a book critic for the New York Times. A former senior editor of the New York Times Book Review, he was the founding books editor of Salon.com. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a biography of James Agee.
I spoke to Garner earlier this month about what makes a good critic, why book reviewers are increasingly nervous about being honest and why metaphors and similes are like plastic explosives.
How did you become a literary critic?
It happened very slowly, and then very quickly, as they say about going over a waterfall. It was an improbable process, for sure. I grew up in West Virginia and then in south Florida in a family that didn’t really own books. We had the Bible, and we had Reader’s Digest condensed books. Those are almost worse than no books. I was attract…