Monday, March 22, 2010

Passion Shines Through

I love it when people are passionate about the things they do. I'm always reminded of this during March Madness season--the players are passionate, the group of strangers with whom I watched some of the opening round games were passionate, and, of course, Gus Johnson is passionate:

But he's not the only one who gets worked up over sports. Witness ESPN's Tim Kurkjian talking about a 2007 baseball game in which the Texas Rangers scored 30 runs:

On The Phone: Tim Kurkjian

And this is also why I think James Wood (The New Yorker book critic, and the Harvard professor) is a national treasure: the passion he has for fiction comes screaming through the pages. Take this example from his book How Fiction Works, in which he discusses a passage of Henry James's novel, What Masie Knew:

This is tremendously subtle. It is so flexible, so capable of inhabiting different levels of comprehension and irony, so full of poignant identification with young Masie, yet constantly moving in toward Masie and moving away from her, back toward the author. 

This sample is only moderately selected. I opened up to a random page and found that waiting for me. Wood's writing is just full of this type of intelligent yet loving analysis.

I'm going tonight to hear Wood speak about DFW's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Some have pointed out that we shouldn't expect to hear a fawning, only positive review of the short story collection. But I think that's part of the appeal. I wouldn't expect Wood to provide anything other than his honest opinion of his reactions to the book.

More thoughts will follow after the event.

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