Let me begin with a brief proviso for what follows below: In most of my encounters over the years with Wayne Booth’s work, we never quite connected. For a wide range of reasons, mostly generational, our timing always seemed a bit off. I read The Rhetoric of Fiction, for example, for the fi rst time in the early 1970s, not long after I started graduate school. The formalist systems of the Modernist era were in their dotage, essentially lifeless by this point, and those of us fresh to the profession were busy looking for alternatives, particularly among the French theorists who were just beginning to migrate into English. Booth’s argument was enough off-message from the New Criticism in particular-in his conception of the author, for example, as an animate part of the interpretive process and, certainly, in his attempt to conceive narrative as a mode of rhetoric-that it had some intrinsic appeal to me. But his method and his voice seemed dated, out of step with the next and the new, even though I had no precise idea of what that was going to be, in part because I hadn’t read enough, in part because a lot of what I needed to read had not yet been written.