In 2015, a selection of Stephen Mitchelmore’s writing on This Space was released in book form, making available his critiques of modernist literature as contemporary classics of the form. The irony, of course, is that Mitchelmore’s inimitable blog posts have long offered more depth and perspicacity than much of book reviewing that appears in print, rebuttal to the somewhat hysterical argument that book blogging will “be to the detriment of literature”.
Book blogging however is an easy target for mockery. Amongst the thousands of sites that are merely shills for publishers, This Space stands out, not only for a prose that is shorn of needless surface effect, but that provides essayistic posts about literature that deal with the ongoing challenge of modernism. Analysis is Mitchelmore’s strength, sifting narrative material with a playful alertness for the nuggets that pinpoint its weight.
I can no longer recall whether I discovered This Space before or after I started writing on this blog, but I’ve since read it twice end to end. That many of my favourite posts now exist in printed form is a revelation for it underscores how difficult I find linear in-depth reading on screen. I’m thrilled to be able to devote more sustained attention to Mitchelmore’s blog in the form of This Space of Writing.
The forty or so essays, read one after the other, form a heterogeneous whole, revealing the underlying unity of Mitchelmore’s concerns: reading, and writing what we read, is not about uncovering the meaning(s) of a work, but allowing a text to assert its own existence as a fracture of being.