But a correction seems to be in order. Zadie Smith didn’t actually issue a mea culpa in response to James Wood’s essay “Human All Too Inhuman,” though she surely had read that essay many times, but rather to Wood’s “Tell me how does it feel?” That particular article was written shortly after September 11th, and shares in the characteristic fatuousness of essays reacting to that event. I find that fact rather ironic, given Wood’s apparent bugaboos (is September 11th that important to literature, or isn’t it, Mr. Wood?)–not that I’ve read anything of his beyond the two articles linked above. Nor have I read any of the books he criticizes, except the ur-document, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.
More on why references to September 11th bother me more than usual tonight will follow.