Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Five of the best books of criticism

John Freeman is an award-winning writer and book critic. The former editor of Granta and onetime president of the National Book Critics Circle, he has written about books for more than two hundred publications worldwide, including The New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, La Repubblica, and La Vanguardia. His first book, The Tyranny of E-mail, was published in 2009. His poetry has been published in The New Yorker, ZYZZYVA, and The Paris Review. His new book is How to Read a Novelist.

For The Daily Beast, Freeman named his favorite books of criticism. One title on the list:
Hugging the Shore by John Updike.

For 20 months, between marriages, John Updike lived alone in Boston, “my foam-rubber reading chair three paces from my dining table and two paces from my bed.” Hugging the Shore, Updike’s fourth collection of assorted prose, grew out of this period, and shows what marvelous things can be done with readerly solitude. Filled with travel pieces on Venezuela, essays on going barefoot, and reviews of an astonishing array of writers, from Ngugi wa Thiong’o to Buchi Emecheta to V.S. Naipaul and John Cheever, it displays the roaming sweep of Updike’s light-house mind at its most curious and powerful and generous.
Read about the other books on Freeman's list.

--Marshal Zeringue