Critical Mass

Hardcover $30.00

Doubleday | Oct 15, 2013 | 512 Pages | 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 | ISBN 9780385527798

  • Paperback$18.95

    Anchor | Apr 14, 2015 | 528 Pages | 5-3/16 x 8 | ISBN 9780767930635

  • Hardcover$30.00

    Doubleday | Oct 15, 2013 | 512 Pages | 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 | ISBN 9780385527798

  • Ebook$14.99

    Anchor | Oct 15, 2013 | 512 Pages | ISBN 9780385536912

Awards

PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award – Essay WINNER 2014

Praise

“Epic, and epically rewarding. . . . A vacuum-packed anthology of tight arguments and shrewd observations.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[Wolcott] is the preeminent critic of contemporary spectacle, matching his own supercharged style to the highlights of forty years of TV, pop music, books, and movies.” —The New York Review of Books

“If any book could stir up my moldering competitive instincts, Critical Mass is the one. . . . Back in those long-gone Voice days, not a few of us cockily fancied that we were—or were going to be—pretty good. Jim was better.” —Tom Carson, Bookforum
 
“One of America’s finest cultural critics.” —Flavorwire

“In an age of inane Twitter commentary, ‘likes,’ and instant publication, one of the few critics standing athwart our culture and writing serious criticism is James Wolcott. . . . Critical Mass collects some of his most winning assassinations.” —The Daily Beast

“Wolcott is a wickedly cunning, agile writer with a special talent for quick-sketch characterizations. . . . Critical Mass is the perfect bedside-table book because its short entries promise pleasure from even the briefest dips into its pages.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“The thought hits every now and then when I read another critic: I wish I had written that sentence. Reading James Wolcott, though, ‘every now and then’ turns into every paragraph. . . . Sacred cows and conventional wisdom don’t stand a chance against his pen.” —Chris Vognar, The Dallas Morning News

“This book offers a sublime buzz.” —Prospect Magazine

“Forthright and fair-minded, but ferocious in disdain, with the sly, smart voice of someone in the know but never caught up in the moment, this collection.” —Publishers Weekly

“An eclectic collection that reasserts the author’s reputation as one of America’s most perceptive, candid and human critics.” —Kirkus Reviews

Table Of Contents

Introduction
 
I . Talking Furniture
O.K. Corral Revisited
Liv and Let Die: Scenes from a Marriage
Hartman Is the Best Thing About Lear
Stanley Siegel: Jack Paar in the Age of est
The Vindication of Vanessa Redgrave: Playing for Time
The Crane-Shot That Captured Christmas: SCTV
Potter’s Reel: The Singing Detective
Designing Couple: Designing Women
“X” Factor: The X- Files
Prime Time’s Graduation
 
II. Comedians
Who’s Laughing Now?: Is Stand-Up Comedy Dead on Its Feet?
Late Night
    What Keeps Johnny on Top? Insincerity!
    Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye
    The Swivel Throne
    Letterman Unbound
    Great Carson’s Ghost!
Jerry Lewis: Last Tuxedo Standing
Christopher Guest: Mystery Guest
Mort Sahl: Mort the Knife
 
III. Punk , Pop, Rock
Patti x Two
    Patti Smith: Mustang Rising
    Tarantula Meets Mustang: Dylan Calls On Patti Smith
The Ramones: Chord Killers
A Conservative Impulse in the New Rock Underground
Lou Reed Rising
John Cale Refuses to Die
Richard Hell Comes in Spurts
Johnny Rotten x Two
    Kiss Me, You Fool: Sex Pistols 77
    Rotten and Vicious: Rotten, John Lydon
The Noise Boys: Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer
The Bollocks: Please Kill Me, Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Lives of Albert Goldman
When They Were Kings: The Rat Pack
 
IV. Movies
French Fries and Sympathy: Diner
Your Flick of Flicks: My Favorite Year
Brian De Palma x Three
    The Godfather Goes Slumming: Scarface
    Double Trouble: Body Double
    De Palma and the Women
Of Vice and Mann
Sam Peckinpah: Slay ’em Again, Sam
A Fistful of Woodys
    The Great White Woody: Broadway Danny Rose
    Liquid Shimmer: Purple Rose of Cairo
    Upper West Side Story: Hannah and Her Sisters
    How Green Was My Woody
Death and the Master: Alfred Hitchcock
New York Noir
The Executioners
Rock Hudson and Doris Day: Lovers Come Back
From Fear to Eternity: The Americanization of Emily
An Unforgettable Face: A Face in the Crowd
 
V. Books , Authors , Critics
Knowledge Is Good?: The Intellectual Killer Elite
On the Ropes: Selected Letters, Ernest Hemingway
Stop Me Before I Write Again: A Bloodsmoor Romance, Joyce Carol Oates
Richard Ford: Guns and Poses
Three Critics
    Manny Farber’s Termite Art
    The Stand- Up Critic: Mudrick Transcribed: Classes and Talks by Marvin 
         Mudrick

    Seymour Krim: Foreword to What’s This Cat’s Story?
R.I.P.: Edie: An American Biography, Jean Stein
Life Among the Ninnies: The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume Seven (1966–1974)
Philip Larkin’s Enormous Yes
Amis Père et Fils
    The Old Devil: Difficulties with Girls, Kingsley Amis
    Kingsley’s Ransom
    The Amis Papers
    The Yob That Failed: Lionel Asbo: State of England, Martin Amis
Updike x Three
    Running on Empty: Rabbit Is Rich
    Caretaker/Pallbearer: The Widows of Eastwick
    The Prince of Finesse: Hugging the Shore
It’s Still Cheever Country: Cheever: A Life, Blake Bailey
Ayn Rand: Rand Inquisitor
Kerouac’s Lonesome Road
Remaking It: New York Days, Willie Morris; Kafka Was the Rage, Anatole Broyard
The Truman Show: Truman Capote, George Plimpton
William Shawn: The Love Bug
Norman Mailer: The Norman Conquests
Bow. Wow.: Gore Vidal, Fred Kaplan
I Adore Your Mustache: Selected Letters of William Styron
 
Acknowledgments

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