Critical Mass

Critical Library: Katha Pollitt

By Eric Banks

Each week, the NBCC will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries. We recently heard from Katha Pollitt and here are the books she named:

Randall Jarrell , Poetry and The Age. Hilarious and profound, Jarrell is simultaneously the most sympathetic and the most devastating of critics.

Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader. The bedrock text for anyone who wants to write about books seriously, accessibly, delightfully and originally.

Edmund Wilson, Literary Essays. I love the omnivorous curiosity, the energy, the slashing intelligence, the weight of knowledge.

Ellen Moers, Literary Women. It’s hard to believe the hostility that originally greeted this deft revelation of the importance of women writers to other women writers.

Mary McCarthy, A Bolt from the Blue. She was just so smart!

Katha Pollitt won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry for her debut book, “Antarctic Traveller.” She was also a finalist in criticism in 1994 for “Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism.” She writes a column for “The Nation” called “Subject to Debate,” and her most recent book is “Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories.”