Mark Harris John P. Sisk - Essay

John P. Sisk

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

I found [Something About a Soldier] an enjoyable performance, full of humor, sympathy and a relish of language. Mr. Harris has resisted the temptation to use his hero simply as a means of flaying the corrupt world. There is no bitterness in his high-spirited book. His attitude of affectionate irony towards Jacob is just right, and an appealing figure emerges.

Some Harris fans may be disappointed to learn that Something About a Soldier is not in the manner of Henry Wiggen, the southpaw narrator of the three previous novels. But if they read with their ears open they will discover that the Wiggen style was only the Harris style in vernacular dress. It may be that Mr. Harris intends to return to Henry, and if he does I am sure that Henry will amuse me. Nevertheless, I feel that Mr. Harris is too good a writer, and too concerned with style, not to know that the moment when one begins to do something easily is the moment for the writer to begin doing something else. (p. 215)

John P. Sisk, "One Man's Trial," in Commonweal (copyright © 1957 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. LXVII, No. 8, November 22, 1957, pp. 214-15.