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by Alan Hollinghurst
Novelists tend to be repulsed by and attracted to the literary biographer, who is both kindred spirit and antagonist, reviver and executioner, exalted Boswell, and the “lice of literature” (to quote Philip Roth from Exit Ghost).
I started to have a terrible, itchy, and at first seemingly irrelevant thought: James Wood would dislike my book. Then my thought clarified into something worse: James Wood would dislike this book and he would be correct.
Because of the IMPAC award’s global reach and egalitarian process, it’s always interesting to dig deeper into the longlist.
For the record no serious critic goes into a job planning to do a takedown. All I heard about Mad Men was that it was great...I sat in my bedroom watching with a good friend of mine and we looked at each other after three episodes and I said, “The love is not happening.” Then it becomes interesting.