‘New Yorker’ Hire Hates Our Way of Life?

He does look like a badass.Photo: Getty Images

With Kanye West taking the high, smarmy road in his rivalry with 50 Cent (really more “chicken” than “beef”), it has been left to the literary Establishment to produce the kind of sniping that gets us hot and bothered. In this case, it looks like it’s one man against the world. Or maybe one man against America: The New Yorker has just brought on James Wood, a British book critic who made his reputation at The New Republic tearing down writers like Toni Morrison and Don DeLillo and coining the dismissive term “hysterical realism.”

The hire, according to an article in the Boston Globe, has some people asking whether Wood understands the hood. Lindsay Waters, an editor at Harvard University Press, tells the paper that “I think he just doesn’t get America.” Meanwhile, John Leonard, TV critic for New York and book reviewer for Harper’s, says that he’s “tempted to suggest that not appreciating either Don DeLillo or Toni Morrison suggests that maybe you are tone-deaf to the American language as she is written.” Wood, who has repeatedly slammed Old Man New Yorker John Updike, responds to all this by saying something boring about how being serious and tough is important in criticism. Where do we stand? Let’s just leave it at America — fuck yeah! —Nick Catucci

The Elegant Assassin [Boston Globe]

‘New Yorker’ Hire Hates Our Way of Life?