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Pico Iyer conducts a discussion with Daniel Mendelsohn and James Wood, both authors of new books of criticism. Mendelsohn's How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken is a collection of essays that comments on the vast landscape of contemporary American culture from Quentin Taratino's film Kill Bill, which he sees as representing a generation raised on television reruns and video replays, to a theatrical face-off between the work of Stephen Sondheim "but it's about something" and Mel Brooks' "a wholly safe evening." In his book How Fiction Works, Wood says that you have to "read enough literature to be taught by it how to read it" as he explores not just how fiction works but how a novelist's choices make us feel that a novel ultimately works... or doesn't.

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