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 the past ten years, we’ve seen many attempts to construct a taxonomy of the hipster, which is why it’s refreshing to come across a novel account of the term’s origins. At The Atlantic, Karen Swallow Prior makes a convincing case that T.S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, invented the “cuffed-trouser urbanite on the hunt for authenticity.”
Recommended Listening: an interview with David Foster Wallace recorded the year Infinite Jest was published. Pair with these interviews and thoughts about what we mean when we talk about “rare” recordings.
To add to the awards lists, Believer has announced its editors’ shortlist for the Believer Book Award, which looks to acknowledge “the strongest and most underappreciated” novels of the year. The shortlist includes Danielle Dutton’s Sprawl; Kira Henehan’s Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles (reviewed for The Millions); James Hynes‘ Next, Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps (reviewed for The Millions); and Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies (reviewed here).
When did romance novels get such a bad rep? They weren’t always derided as somehow lesser than other books. At Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth delves into the history of the modern romance novel, exploring how particular stereotypes latched on to the popular genre. You could also read Julia Fierro on sex and the literary writer.