How The Daily Show may have an advantage over mainstream news, by virtue of its refusual to take “View from Nowhere.” Conor Friedersdorf makes the compelling case that comedy writers, with their eyes rooting out the absurd in the world, can put give the news some much needed perspective.
New this week: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood; Gold, Fame, Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins; Vertigo by Joanna Walsh; Syllabus of Errors by Troy Jollimore; The Good Story by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz; I Must Be Living Twice by Eileen Myles; and The Complete Works of Primo Levi. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
TriQuarterly, the long-running trail-blazing literary journal more or less dreamed into existence by the late Charles Newman, is apparently no more, due to budget cuts at Northwestern University. Newman’s foreword to his first issue as editor, reprinted at A Public Space, should be required reading for anyone thinking about the purpose and future of the little magazine and its role in the artistic ecology.
This fall the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is offering a free, 7-session live online Advanced Fiction Seminar. The course will run from September 16 through October 28, and it will be taught by fiction writer Nate Brown. Best of all? It’s open to anyone with an internet connection. Applications are due September 6th.
If the description “a comic thriller about mermaids, the natural world and ruthless capitalism” isn’t enough to pique your interest, you might be inspired to pick up Lydia Millet’s latest by the title of Laura Miller’s review, which describes Millet as “the P.G. Wodehouse of environmental writing.” At Salon, the book critic goes into the many reasons she enjoys Millet’s work, among them the author’s knack for deploying humor at appropriate times. FYI, Millet wrote an article for The Millions recently.
“Russia’s most celebrated writers – including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn and Mandelstam – are often depicted as solitary geniuses. But many of their works were the fruits of creative partnerships with their wives. Far from being passive typists, they served as editors, researchers, translators, publishers and more.”
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.