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.
“Many black parents tell black children to strive; to seize opportunities that will enable upward mobility. However, they also give their children a poison capable of eroding black children’s innocence. They tell them to be twice as good; that there is no room for failure or mistakes.” Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun, writes about how black children are denied the privilege of innocence.
Precocious hardly begins to describe the early work of now-famous child fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson. If you’re like me–a clueless/skeptical johnny-come-lately–check out this post, in which Tavi documents and explains the Blanche DuBois outfit she’s worn to school and her take on Tennessee Williams‘ most famous heroine.
A lot of writers have alter-egos, but few are as interesting as Benjamin Black, the crime-writing persona of Irish novelist and Year in Reading alum John Banville. The author’s new novel adds an entry to the saga of a crime-fiction icon: Raymond Chandler’s Angeleno detective, Philip Marlowe.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”