There are moments, reading this midwesterner who has thought seriously about his subjects and now wishes to speak plainly about them, that the voice on the page—its erudition tempered by politeness or maybe humility—carries an echo of the tone of the late David Foster Wallace. Indeed, Wallace himself shows up later in the book, more than once. By then, though, Magic Hours has taken a turn for the worse. The further the book goes—the essays arrive chronologically—the clearer it becomes that its rubric about “Creators and Creation” is a flimsy bag thematically. Bissell’s real subject here is something closer to “success,” or even “fame.” And success does not seem to suit him.
more from Tom Scocca at Bookforum here.