A high school music teacher is trying his damnedest to establish an official state song for New Jersey, which is apparently the only state in America without its own anthem. If you’re curious, here’s a list of the 49 other states and their official, state-sanctioned musical accompaniments.
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.
In an interview about her new book, The Day I Shot Cupid: Hello, My Name Is Jennifer Love Hewitt and I'm a Love-aholic, Jennifer Love had some rather startling advice for jilted young ladies: "After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady. It shined like a disco ball so I have a whole chapter in there on how women should vagazzle their vajayjays."
“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.
What do you call a genre that mixes westerns and fantasy novels? Damien Walter proposes the term “weird western.” In The Guardian, he runs down the history of the hybrid category, citing Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country and Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion as examples. Pair with Daniel Kalder on the Euro-Western.
Electric Literature’s posted a story by Jesmyn Ward, author of the reigning National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones, as part of their ongoing Recommended Reading series. It’s worth checking out. Likewise, I recommend getting your hands on the latest issue of Oxford American so you can check out Ward’s inaugural “Native Daughter” column.
How do you feel about claims that men avoid reading women? Before you answer, consider this piece, which argues that sexism in the lit world is more complicated than it may appear. (For more, go check out our own piece on sexism on the internet, or else take a look at this Harvard Divinity School study on how sexism shapes responses to women’s writing.)