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.”
In the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, Jean Strouse brings us inside John Singer Sargent’s inner circle. The exhibition, “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends,” is on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art until October 4th. You could also read Edra Ziesk’s piece on what makes a friend.
Recommended Reading: This fantastic essay by Lea Page at The Rumpus on memory, family, and a whole lot more than that: “There could be no argument, no defense. It was, in a literal sense, true. I had said that.Sure, she had left out a significant portion of the truth, but in doing so, she had revealed another. That was the one memory my mother cleaved to. That was the song she chose to sing of me. I was still losing at memory.”
“As I read her words, I experienced a feeling previously unknown to me: recognition. I had always turned to books for pleasure, as portals to other places. Reading The Woman Warrior, for the first time I saw myself on every page and in every word.” For Catapult, Alexis Cheung writes about representation, being an Asian-American writer, and reading and interviewing Maxine Hong Kingston. From our archives: Kingston’s work was featured in Alexander Chee‘s 2015 Year in Reading.