In a big week for new releases, we have Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, the sequel to his blockbuster debut The Magicians; Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes, reviewed here today; another new Geoff Dyer book, The Missing of the Somme; DBC Pierre’s Lights Out in Wonderland; and Kevin Wilson’s debut novel The Family Fang (which one blurber calls The Royal Tenenbaums meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Four of the five books above, incidentally, were featured in our big second-half preview. And out in a paperback this week are a pair of award winners: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies and David Grossman’s To the End of the Land.
Congratulations to our own Lydia Kiesling whose essay “Proust’s Arabesk: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk” has taken third place in the 3 Quarks Daily 2010 Prize in Arts & Literature as judged by Robert Pinsky.
George Dobbs explores the history of some common cliches for The Airship and makes an elegant argument for being aware of overused phrasing: “The worst fiction might never go beyond widely used tropes, but the best fiction starts with an awareness of them.” We agree, and also hope never to read “It was a dark and stormy night…” again.
Mixer Publishing wants more of your sex, violence, and satire. They’ve just extended their contest deadline–for fiction, poetry, and graphic stories–to the end of the month, which gives you a few more weeks to conjure and submit satirical lust and gore for a chance to win their $1,000 prize.
Finland will pay tribute to author and artist Tove Jansson by adding her likeness to a new two-Euro commemorative coin. This isn’t the first time a country’s wanted to add an author to their currency. (Related: Alex Ohlin looks at the “sad, strange brilliance” of Moomin; and Jansson’s works are recommended by Emily St. John Mandel and Rachel Meier.)
Is “the two-person collaboration… the essential creative act”? Joshua Wolf Shenk thinks so, and he’s written a book defending his position, aptly titled The Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney are his primary examples and the root of his argument, famous author duos are also referenced – C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, for one. Shenk even “works to transform even famously lonely figures — Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr. — into one side of a duet.” Consider us skeptical but intrigued.