Jane Austen famously refused to acknowledge the Napoleonic Wars in her books. The detective novelist P.D. James rectifies that in the first chapter of “Death Comes to Pemberley,” her follow-up to “Pride and Prejudice.” She even throws in a corpse.
Reading the critic William Deresiewicz’s takedowns of Susan Sontag , Philip Roth , Richard Powers (the list goes on) is like watching a big-game hunter wield an elephant gun against snorting, charging beasts. You may not approve -- sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t -- but the nerve and expertise are dazzling.