Last night's critical conversation at the Center for Fiction, dubbed “Criticism Beside Itself,”ranged widely, from discussion of Russian formalists, Marxists, and N+1 magazine to critics James Wood (Elif Batuman: “James Wood nailed the 'hysterical realists.' He got them good. It was funny a smart.” Rivka Galchen: “We enjoy bold statements in criticism because we can immediately disagree with them. One thing we like about James Wood's meaner reviews is we could disagree with him.”),Dwight MacDonald, Terry Castle, Susan Sontag, Geoff Dyer, Lionel Trilling, and Nicolson Baker on James Updike.
The panelists (from left): Bookforum editor and newly elected NBCC board member Michael Miller, Elif Batuman, finalist for the NBCC's criticism award last year, who will announce this year's criticism finalists tonight; Harper's contributing editor and novelist Rivka Galchen, NBCC president Eric Banks, and NBCC board member Mark Athitakis, who blogs at American Fiction Notes.Video coming soon.