Friday, December 07, 2007

The Polite Company of William Boyd

In this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, I review William Boyd's Bamboo: Essays and Criticism.
It’s difficult, in fact, to argue with any of Boyd’s conclusions. But if one can’t argue with a review, why bother with it at all? One would rather — at least, I would rather — read a striking if ultimately dubious argument about a book or a movie than the level-headed evaluations provided in these pages. It is more important for a critic to be interesting than to be right. To truly interest the reader, a critic must risk something and be prepared for the embarrassment that follows a questionable enthusiasm or the contrition that’s the result of an ill-considered pan.