A New Yorker Critic Goes Feral

Clichéd life drives James Wood to a forest existence

Apr 9th, 2010 | By Coco Cabrera | Category: Arts

New Yorker book critic James Wood has gone feral and is living as a wild animal in a forested area in upstate New York according to the editor of The New Yorker magazine David Remnick.

“I can confirm he is no longer domesticated,” said Remnick.

"The squirrel leapt at Jim."

Wood was apparently profoundly distressed to realize that many of the clichés he disapproved of in fiction, its “codes and conventions” were his quotidian reality.

“I think the first thing Jim noticed were the small, telling details in his life. His office was “small, well organized and focused on a battered laptop. It had a peculiar smell of leftover takeout.”  said a colleague at the magazine. “Seeing that I guess Jim asked questions that no one should.   Life really is more concrete than abstract and the very act of thinking about that showed Jim  that he had the more or less orderly access to consciousness and memory of a typical fictional character.”

Wood also began to sense that coincidences were changing the course of his life.  He was reportedly struck with a half-eaten taco thrown from the window of a car.  This obliged him to return to his apartment to change his soiled shirt.  There he happened on a burglar who had waited for his departure to break in.  Mr. Wood wrestled her to the ground. Wood and the thief became aroused in struggle and ended up having sex. Details revealed during a post-coital dialogue showed that Wood and the intruder were, in fact, long separated brother and sister.

“The improbability of that … and the profound, sudden character-changing revelations, all triggered by some goof tossing a taco out of a car … it wasn’t very good and it was his life,” said Remnick. “Jim did not want to have anything to do with his own story.

It was  an effort to escape the orthodoxy of his own life,  its predictability, that led him to the automatic, instinct-driven life of a wild animal.

“There’s been pretty good weather so I understand he’s not been too uncomfortable,” said Remnick.  “And the other day he tracked and killed a squirrel. The event, though critical to his survival, was not imbued with artificial meaning, it didn’t signify anything more than itself and it advanced the plot.  It was, I’m told quite dramatic, full of action. It had irony and pathos.  And I think it was a nice break from the bugs he’s been living on.”

Share this!