What makes a story a story? What is style? Whats the connection between realism and real life? These are some of the questions James Wood answers in How Fiction Works, the first book-length essay by the preeminent critic of his generation. Ranging widelyfrom Homer to David Foster Wallace, from What Maisie Knew to Make Way for DucklingsWood takes the reader through the basic elements of the art, step by step. The result is nothing less than a philosophy of the novelplainspoken, funny, bluntin the traditions of E. M. Forsters Aspects of the Novel and Strunk and Whites The Elements of Style. It sums up two decades of insight with wit and concision. It will change the way you read.