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A self-chastisement 9th October 2008

Dear Sirs—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…

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