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.”
Tom Jenks, co-founder of Narrative Magazine (which charges writers $23 to submit), is releasing a 400-page, six-chapter craft book on the art of imaginative fiction titled A Poetics of Fiction. The information inside the book is billed as “more than useful—it’s essential and not readily available anywhere else”—maybe that’s why it retails for $225.
Tonight marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a three-day Muslim holiday commemorating Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son, Ishmael. The annual event draws over two and a half million Muslims on Hajj to Saudi Arabia. It makes for an incredibly moving sight, and this year, thanks to Google’s partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, you can check out a live stream of the pilgrimage from the comfort of your own home.
“Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.” Newly minted Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro on writing The Remains of the Day in four weeks.
The "grande dame of the Beat Generation" has died at age 90. Carolyn Cassady passed away last Friday near her home in England. She was the inspiration for Camille, Dean Moriarty's overburdened second wife in Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Yet Cassady was a writer in her own right and published two books, Off the Road and Heart Beat: My Life With Jack and Neal, about how the Beat Generation was misunderstood.
Carve out some time to watch all forty-five minutes of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s recent “Between the Lines” conversation if you want to find out why Americanah qualifies as Adichie’s “fuck you” book. (You can also just skip to the 16:16 mark if you’re unable to carve out enough time.)