Think back to your time as a 14-year-old. What were you doing with your time? Were you beating Norman Mailer in a national essay contest? A Guide for the Perplexed author Dara Horn was.
In a short biographical piece for Open Letters Monthly, Sam Sacks writes about the book reviewing career of Katherine Mansfield and the ways in which it “helped her build the writing muscles needed” to finish her masterful short stories. While some critics might take umbrage at the way Sacks characterizes Mansfield as “turning out deadline copy like an ink-stained Fleet Street hack,” his look into her reviews culminates in the realization that “the point [of reviewing books] is not to be constructive but to construct something of lasting value in the little space and little time you’re granted. Like all writing, it should be a passion, not a pastime. The point is to dazzle.”
The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction have been announced! Winners for 2016 are Viet Thanh Nguyen for his novel, The Sympathizer and Sally Mann for Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs. You could also read Nguyen’s Year in Reading.
Jonathan Freedland and Christian Lorentzen wrote dispatches from the Republican National Convention for the NYRB and LRB, respectively, but the UK outfit seems to be more committed to the endeavor than does Robert Silver’s. Check out Lorentzen’s two additional updates here and here.
There was an article in the New York Times on cook book ghostwriters, and it called Gwyneth Paltrow out for not writing My Father’s Daughter. Then the actress cum gourmand denied having worked with a ghostwriter in a tweet. Now Sari Botton, a frequent ghostwriter, has tried to clear the whole thing up in an essay on The Rumpus on why ghostwriting is such a fickle business, and a tricky term.