“Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.” -From the much-quoted 1928 essay by SS Van Dine, noted art critic and mystery writer, on the 20 rules for writing detective stories. (via Guardian)
There are all kinds of arguments for reading the canon (Italo Calvino‘s come to mind) but why should we spend time reading untested contemporary authors? Tim Parks tackles this question, with a little help from Virginia Woolf, for The New York Review of Book‘s blog, and his argument pairs well with Guy Patrick Cunningham‘s Millions essay on reading the classics.
“How can we trust ourselves? Trust that our skills will return? Trust that this blank document—this one, right now—won’t be our undoing? The previous essay I wrote won’t save me when the blank document stares, and the deadline looms, and the editor lurks, and the readers wait.” Mensah Demary on writing and forgetting.