Critical Mass

Critical Mass
James Wolcott

The critical essay, usually taking the form of a review, is one of the most ephemeral of literary forms. In choosing this selection of favourite pieces from four decades spent in the trenches, James Wolcott (who has spent most of the last two of those decades at Vanity Fair) was reminded of this. Many of his subjects now stand on the edge of oblivion: famous authors who have “receded into the marsh mist,” and once popular TV shows that are nothing but “a chunk of space debris.” What remains is the graceful and lively recording of impressions made upon a cultivated mind, and a reminder of how, in the right hands, criticism can still be an art.