Susan Glickman muses that thoughtful literary criticism is not merely about ‘duelling with words, however full of flourishes and feints’. Rather it ‘means—or ought to mean—to evaluate something dispassionately, seeing not only its faults but its virtues.’ In Artful Flight, she does just that, writing respectfully but uncompromisingly about artistic topics both ostensibly familiar (such as considerations of writers like Northrop Frye, Don Coles, Erín Moure and Bronwen Wallace) and delightfully arcane (such as the etymological evolution of contranyms in Shakespeare and beyond).
With keen intelligence and droll wit, Glickman explores a variety of artistic concerns, from the expectations of literary genre, the formalist hurdles of poetry and the tyranny of modern opinion to the magical history of the violin and the pleasure of creating visual art later in life. Her approach is unabashedly her own: feminist, supportive and drawing on a wide range of cultural and literary references.
These well-reasoned essays prove that balanced criticism can be compelling, nuanced and sensitive to the motives and influences of artists.