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.”
“Many students do not rate their knowledge very highly… they often doubt the possibility of mastering both pen and sword. A problem like this one, I realized not long ago, demands some special assistance. Thus, with all the earnest discretion of a Victorian lady in distress, I have appealed to none other than Mr. Sherlock Holmes.” The New Republic posts an essay on teaching Sherlock Holmes at West Point.
Everyone should read this extremely important interview with Matt Gallagher and Phil Klay, two talented writers who are also veterans of the Iraq war. Klay won the National Book Award in 2014 for his collection Redeployment–even Obama loved it. From drone strikes to PTSD to finding purpose after war, this interview covers a lot of bases. Phil Klay’s Year in Reading from 2014 is a little dated but worth a look.