My Trade Is Mystery

Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing

I am often resistant to books about writing—for reasons I’m not entirely prepared to investigate—but this book, with its mix of essay and reflection, memory and inquiry, feels less like a map than an invitation to get lost; and to make oneself at ease in that place of mystery. Phillips touches on common topics—practice, ambition, audience—but always with a gaze that prefers to turn inward. He writes, “I think that’s all art is, a record of interior attention paid.” In that, the book is as much about living well as it is about writing well—which, at the end of the day, may be the same thing.