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James Wood Is Done “Prosecuting Wars”

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Jane Mayer explains why Charles and David Koch are willing to spend as much as thirty million dollars on advertising that opposes Donald Trump’s campaign of tariffs—right as the midterm elections offer voters a referendum on his Presidency.  And David Remnick speaks with James Wood, the literary critic and sometime novelist.  When Wood joined The New Yorker as a literary critic, he promised that he wouldn’t “go soft”: he had been well known at The New Republic for battles with prominent writers whose styles he found flawed.  Wood tells David Remnick that he now regrets that choice of words. Changing his mind or expanding his taste needn’t be seen as form of capitulation.  Criticism itself, Wood says, has been, to some degree, a detour from his calling: writing his own fiction. Wood’s new novel, “Upstate,” follows a father—an Englishman, like Wood—as he spends time with his adult daughters.  One is an energetic corporate executive, the other a melancholy professor of philosophy. The book is a meditation on what it means to be a parent, and Wood notes that male novelists, including Karl-Ove Knausgaard and Michael Chabon, are finally beginning to write about the experience of parenting as a central concern.  

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