But to write about the arts from the inside – to appraise a new work, to evaluate a performance, to recognize what’s good and what’s bad – calls for a special set of skills and a special body of knowledge. It’s necessary, in short, to be a critic – which, at some point in his or her career, almost every writer wants to be. Small-town reporters dream of the moment when their editor will summon them to cover the pianist or the ballet troupe or the repertory company that has been booked into the local auditorium. They will trot out the hard-won words of their college education – “intuit” and “sensibility” and “Kafkaesque” – and show the whole county that they know a glissando from an entrechat. They will discern more symbolism in Ibsen than Ibsen thought of.