Moby-Dick is a quintessential Great American Novel, perhaps even the greatest, but it might not be pure fiction. That’s what George Dobbs argues in a piece on “The Real Life Inspirations Behind Moby-Dick” for The Airship. Invention or not, at least we can be thankful no cannibalism sneaked its way onto the Pequod…
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.
We haven’t seen a comic from Bill Watterson in two decades, but he’s back with an illustration. Watterson drew the poster art for a new documentary on comic strips Stripped, which also features him. There are no tigers to be found but a nude man jumping out of his clothes in full color instead.
If you enjoy showing the world how much you like to read, you’re in luck: The Paris Review and the LRB are asking people to submit photos of themselves reading either magazine as part of their new contest. All you have to do is post the image on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadEverywhere, and they’ll pick out the top images. The grand prize is one vintage issue of The Paris Review from every decade it’s been around, along with an artwork by Peter Campbell and a vintage LRB cover print.
South Florida readers! Assuming you’re done voting by now, you should make next week’s Miami Book Fair International a priority. Afterward, you can go celebrate thirty years of Books & Books, the jewel of Coral Gables. (And perhaps to warm up for it all, you can read my review of Tom Wolfe’s Back to Blood.)
Kory Stamper, one of the lexicographers responsible for Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, describes the pleasures and poetry to be found in the Third Edition’s “color definitions.” Take vermillion for example, which is listed as “a variable color averaging a vivid reddish orange that is redder, darker, and slightly stronger than chrome orange, redder and darker than golden poppy, and redder and lighter than international orange.” (Related: how colors got their names; who names colors what.)