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October 7, 2006


The Village Voice profiles the Hold Steady.

At his best, Craig now summons a sober Shane MacGowan as much as the Boss ("Stuck Between Stations," bounding lead single "Chips Ahoy!"), with comparably informed poetics and a resolve missing from frayed earlier efforts. On this album he is markedly sharper and swifter with the churning narrative chicken scratch he's made his name on, but that leads to a different problem: The self-awareness he's always exhibited—and his habit of repeating his cleverest, most poetic lines—now play as a bid for communal lighter-hoisting rather than a reminder to get a fresh beer.

The Nietszche Family Circus merges the philosopher's words with the comic strip's artwork.

The Askmetafilter community recommends stand-up comics working today.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer lists recently published books for young readers.

In the Guardian, Gordon Burn examines the connections between authors and sporting heroes.

The parallels between sporting and artistic stamina - like the contrasts between an athletic and a writing life ("He was a sitting industry of farts and belches," Don DeLillo writes of the ageing, baseball-obsessed novelist Bill Gray in Mao II) - hardly need drawing out here. Curiously, Mailer has largely consigned sport to the journalistic (and therefore, for him, less momentous) side of his writing life. It has fallen to the generation of novelists who followed - Updike, Philip Roth in American Pastoral, Richard Ford in The Sportswriter, DeLillo in America's great love song to baseball, Underworld - to foreground sport as the great metaphor and preoccupation of a country whose president is the man once caught drink-driving with the Australian tennis champion John Newcombe in his car, and who spent his down-time during the 2000 recount fiasco reading Richard Ben Cramer's kneecapping biography of Joe DiMaggio.

People In A Position To Know is a new vinyl subscription series, which has commitments from an impressive list of artists: Of Montreal, Califone, Viking Moses, Tender Forever, Angelo Spencer, Emily Jane Powers, The Poster Children, The Wrens, Norfolk and Western, Will Johnson of Centromatic, The Long Winters, AM/FM, Tim Kinsella, Sandman The Rappin' Cowboy, Jad Fair of Half Japanese, Little Wings, Karl Blau, Dark Side of the Cop, Miniature And Presidential, SuperXXman, MGMT, Wooden Wand, Clay Ruby (Zodiacs/Davenports), Casper and the Cookies, and The Impossible Shapes.

The series will be sold in six-disc subscriptions, limited to 100 subscribers per series.

Author Daniel Handler talks to the Australian about his Lemony Snicket series.

Was the 13-book series an accident or a clever marketing ploy? "It turned out to be one," he smiles. "But I always thought that the only thing funnier than a book where miserable things happen over and over to orphans was a 13-volume set where miserable things happen over and over to orphans." And he laughs again in happy contemplation of this mass of misery.

Handler also speaks to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Given Handler's grasp of comically morbid writing and his antipathy to -- an expression that here means dislike of -- the saccharine, Handler often has been compared to Roald Dahl and Edward Gorey.

"I'm flattered," Handler said by phone on the eve of his national tour. "When I finished 'The Bad Beginning' I sent it to Mr. Gorey and said, 'I hope you like this book and forgive all the things I stole from you.' And he died a few weeks later."

Handler paused, then murmured with mock angst, "I like to think I killed him."

New Pornographers frontman Carl Newman talks to ChartAttack.

"Most of us really do want to stay indie," he says. "This is a good model.

"As an artist, I think there's something of great value to have a label behind you that's saying, 'We'll support you in whatever you do.'"

Singer Madeleine Peyroux talks to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"We take a minimalist approach to the songs no matter how many people are playing [in the band]," said Peyroux, who got her start as a teenage high-school dropout busking on the streets of Paris with her Billie Holiday-like voice. "We'll try to create a little bit of an illusion so that people might feel like they're in a club."

BANDOPPLER reviews Jessica Abel's graphic novel, La Perdida.

see also: Jessica Abel's Book Notes entry for the book

Author and artist Alison Bechdel talks to PrideSource about her graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

"I didn't want to inflict my therapy on other people," she says. "I don't think the book itself was therapeutic in the strictest sense. It was, well, maybe I'm lying. It was certainly cathartic."

see also:

this week's CD & DVD releases


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