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.
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is probably the best-known recent example of a memoir that centers on a journey through a harsh landscape. There’s another one that deserves your attention, too — Kathleen Winter’s Boundless, which tells the tale of the writer’s voyage through the icebound Northwest Passage. At The Guardian, a review of the memoir.
“In noir, the problem is not an individual: the problem is the world.” Over at Electric Literature, Nicholas Seeley advocates for the efficacy of noir as a protest genre. Here’s a piece from The Millions’s Hannah Gersen that argues for Bartleby, The Scrivener as another surprising example of protest literature.
William Stuntz’s book The Collapse of American Criminal Justice investigates “how, over the past 50 years, our criminal justice system had been transformed into an unfair, amoral bureaucracy–one that had given up on the very idea of justice.” Its genesis is worth reading about. So, too, is this related article in the most recent edition of n+1, “Raise the Crime Rate.”
“Since his release, in 2005, he has graduated from the University of Maryland and Warren Wilson College’s low-residency M.F.A. program, been a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, received an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award, got married, and had two sons. ‘I’ve added some fancy stars … so now I’m like Felon Plus.’” Take a look at this fascinating New Yorker profile of Reginald Dwayne Betts: poet, memoirist, ex-convict-cum-lawyer, and family man.
The weird and fascinating history of books used in swearing-in ceremonies gets its latest entry: the new Ambassador to Switzerland just took the oath on her personal Kindle.