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.
Those who watch the book deal emails from Publishers Lunch know that Chad Harbach, an editor at n+1, recently sold his first novel, The Art of Fielding, but a Bloomberg article today reveals it went for an eye-popping $650,000. The book centers around baseball at a fictional Wisconsin college, and Bloomberg pegs the deal as “one of the highest prices for a man’s first novel on a topic appealing to a male audience.” Possible buried lede: n+1 compatriots Benjamin Kunkel and Keith Gessen saw their first novels sell 48,000 and 7,000 copies respectively, according to Neilsen BookScan.
“Part of the allure of Bosnia for westerners, I think, has been the surprising nearness of the East. To put it more bluntly, and problematically: in Bosnia the East is tamed, less scarily dogmatic.” Elvis Bego draws a parallel with Madame Bovary at Bookslut.
Already on shelves ahead of its “official” release date is Mark Twain’s long embargoed Autobiography. Also new this week are The Petting Zoo, a posthumously published novel by punk poet Jim Carroll; a new collection of Selected Stories from master of the form William Trevor; Cynthia Ozick’s “retelling” of of Henry James’ The Ambassadors, Foreign Bodies; and, in time for election day today, Matt Taibbi’s collection of biting political journalism, Griftopia.
In today’s NY Times, former Simon & Schuster executive Joni Evans ruminates on the Darwinian transformation of publishing, from tactile and sensory (paper and fountain-pen stains and typewriter bells) to e-everything (bidding wars and clean desks); she herself picked flight over fight.
Richard Branson has built a global business empire (Virgin Group) around the philosophy “have fun and the money will come.” Branson’s new book, Screw Business as Usual, says there’s a way to make money and also do good. And speaking of having fun, watch Branson and Steven Colbert get into a fire extinguisher/water fight.
“The worst days I’ve ever known could be my future under the American Health Care Act.” For Catapult, Liz Lazzara writes about her history with mental illness and what might happen if the new healthcare legislation passes the Senate. Pair with Gila Lyons in our pages about madness, medication, and the creative instinct.