From Publisher's Weekly:
Popular novelist, critic, teacher and classics scholar, John Gardner, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1982, insisted that fiction should be moral and life-affirming. These 29 essays and reviews, gathered from the New York Times Book Review, Antaeus, Saturday Review and elsewhere, are sprinkled with sharp put-downs. For example, Gardner calls John Updike's characters "hypersensitive whiners,'' deems Walker Percy's novel Lancelot "typical bad art ... pompous'' and labels Graham Greene's The Comedians the kind of entertainment that "makes a casual pass at art.'' Gardner is refreshingly unpredictable, admiring such writers as John Cheever, Italo Calvino, Larry Woiwode, William Gass and Lewis Carroll. His high critical standards and gimlet insights shine through.