With college football season officially upon us, I’d like to take some time to recommend some books and articles on the subject of my favorite game. For starters, check out Nick Ripatrazone’s Millions piece about Don DeLillo, sports scandals, and growing up with the game. Next, Taylor Branch’s quintessential ebook on the NCAA’s cartel-like stranglehold on the sport deserves a read from anybody who’s ever participated in or watched college athletics of any kind. (You can get a good idea of the book from his Atlantic piece, too.) And lastly, I recommend checking out John U. Bacon’s latest book, Fourth and Long, which examines how “money, influence and power haunt the league.” (You may recall Bacon’s name from when I reviewed his earlier book on college football last year.)
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.
“They found, unsurprisingly, that blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and ‘aversion to solitude’—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.” On the causes of writer’s block.
Recommended Reading: Jenny Diski on our lost words. “So I had a thought about writing a book for the elderly, the old. Those who have lost their words more comprehensively than the friends around our lunch table, but haven’t lost themselves entirely. A book about where all the words go, where after a time they find the others and collaborate to make sentences.”