We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Mr. James is one of those rare writers who convinces you that criticism is not necessarily a handmaiden in the palace of the arts — that it can be transformed, Cinderella-style, from drudge to princess, given the energy and style of a first-rate fairy godmother (or godfather). In a time when criticism is dominated by the theory-sick monographs of academics, and when the future seems to belong to amateur and professional blurbists, it is more than entertaining to read Mr. James's lucid, passionate, erudite essays. It is heartening, and seems to promise that the critical role once played by a Samuel Johnson or an Edmund Wilson is still possible in the 21st century.