Matt Jakubowski in his blog, Truce:
David Winters is a literary critic living in Cambridge, England. His reviews, essays and interviews have appeared in a wide variety of print and online publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Literary Review, The White Review, The Quarterly Conversation, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. A collection of his literary criticism, titled Infinite Fictions, is forthcoming from Zero Books in January 2015; it can be pre-ordered here. He is currently co-editor in chief of 3:AM Magazine, where he commissions criticism and nonfiction. He can be found online at davidwinters.uk.
I’d like to hear a little bit about your beginnings as a critic. Was there a particular experience that triggered your interest in writing criticism?
Not a particular experience, so much as my general experience of reading—a basic love of reading being why anyone ends up a critic! For me, writing about books presented an opportunity—or perhaps just an excuse—to extend my engagement with the reading experience. What interests me most about that experience is its mystery—its opacity; its apparent distance from everyday reality. And really, thinking about my “beginnings” as a critic means thinking back to my earliest, murkiest memories of reading. Among those is an image of my father, sat on a bench in the garden of the house where I grew up, reading a paperback book. I must have been four or five. I’m not sure of the author—maybe Aldiss or Asimov; it doesn’t matter. What matters is my memory of his mood: sunlit, immersed in his book, he seemed serenely removed from the world. Maybe that’s what I’ve always sought in my reading: a kind of miraculous disappearance. Another memory: I’m sixteen, sitting in the same spot—my father is already four years dead—and I’m reading Kafka for the first time. Another: nineteen, same bench, different book—Roland Barthes. In both cases, I feel the same thing I think I saw on my father’s face, as a child. I can’t put a name to that feeling, but it’s the real reason I read, and the reason I write about what I read.