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November 15, 2006


The Independent reviews Lucinda Williams recent London performance, which featured surprise guest Bruce Springsteen.

The guitarist, who sticks around to bring the set to an ecstatic climax with Williams's own blues-rock epic "Joy", turns out to be a certain Bruce Springsteen. He looks as if he could not find a happier way to spend a spare evening before his own gigs at Wembley. It was a feeling shared by all of us.

Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy talks to Seattle Weekly about the band's latest album, The Crane Wife.

"On The Crane Wife, I wasn't so focused on doing verbal, alliterative acrobatics. I think in other records, I've really been into crunching words, making these lines that your tongue likes to trip over. They're fun to read and to sing, but on this record, I was intent on getting a story across in a very simple yet poetic way."

Tiny Mix Tapes reviews the CMJ Music marathon.

This year's CMJ gift bag included a bright red Bodog Music condom, a set of indie rock trading cards from Insound (think Dirty on Purpose's rookie card will be worth anything in 20 years?), a disembodied doll-head, complete with fuzzy hair, from toymakers Hasbro, and a MySpace keychain that serves as a sort of letter-opener for CD packaging. I hesitate to even mention the perplexing inclusion of year-old Public Enemy album New Whirl Order (uh, can I trade that in for Fear of a Black Planet? Need I even bring up the name "Flavor Flav"?), which I only opened in order to test said keychain.

Author Doug Marlette talks to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about his novel, Magic Time.

Magic Time is not a "white Southerner awakening to the injustice of racism" novel like To Kill A Mockingbird. What distinguishes it is that it deals with the passage of time. With a dual time frame set in the '60s and the '90s, it not only reminds us of what it was like during the movement days, but addresses what changes followed in the South and what happened to the people involved in that struggle.

The New York Post reports that rocker Alice Cooper has sold his memoirs to random House's crown Books for $500,000.

The Onion A.V. Club interviews author Chuck Klosterman.

The A.V. Club: What's a typical working day like for you?

Chuck Klosterman: Well, I haven't really done much of anything today. I got up at 10:30, tried to do a little writing, but really didn't do anything. I went running, then I had to buy a Syd Barrett Pink Floyd record for something I'm working on, so I walked to the store and bought that. Then I came back here and I've been watching an NFL Films documentary on Lawrence Taylor. That's basically been my day. Not too strenuous.

See also:

Klosterman's LHB Book Notes essay for Chuck Klosterman IV
Klosterman's LHB Book Notes essay for Killing Yourself to Live

The New York Times reviews singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom's Monday night performance.

Ms. Newsom manages to write word-conscious lyrics that inhabit neither the romantic refuge of image, image, image, nor the young songwriter’s crutch of malice and sarcasm. Her words can sound antiquated, but not because she is trying to construct an antiquated persona. She has graduated from sticking “catenaries,” “rheum” and “accrue” into her songs, like cloves in a ham, to a new balance between rhetoric and vocabulary.

The Bird and The Bee (featuring Inara George) plays an in-studio performance at Minnesota Public Radio.

Cracked lists the "five most unintentionally funny albums of 2006."

Harp talks to Tom Waits' tour manager about scalped tickets on the singer-songwriter's sold-out August tour.

Tshirt Island lists Borat t-shirts available online.

NPR is streaming Paul McCartney's performance from last night.

The Nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's poem, "Wichita Vortex Sutra."

Because Ginsberg's revelations are difficult--because they seem to question the potency of poetry--it's no surprise that the anniversary of "Wichita Vortex Sutra" has been ignored this year, despite the poem's jarring relevance to the current American landscape.

Newsday examines illustrated volumes of classics, using Jae Lee's Dracula and Dame Darcy's Jane Eyre as examples.

"This is a way of focusing the gaze," says Rebecca Behan, the editor at Viking Studio, part of Penguin, who oversees the project. The company plans to expand the series, she adds. "When you see this book in the bookstore, something about it makes you want to pick it up ... for a young kid, this may be a bridge to other literature." It doesn't hurt that both Lee and Darcy already have "rabid fans" who will likely buy the books for the artwork alone, Behan says.

The Village Voice examines the stresses placed on young authors, using Ned Vizzini as an example.

For Vizzini, there was too much to live up to. "Having a book published so young means you aren't made to rely on the charm, guts, and social skills that artists need," he says. "You've been delivered what everyone's been going for."

see also: Vizzini's Book Notes essay for This Is Kind of a Funny Story

The Minneapolis City Pages reviews Joanna Newsom's new album, Ys.

As on The Milk-Eyed Mender, she favors alliteration and uses the natural world as her put-upon stage; but here on Ys, her songs are more linear and complex. Epic story poems are laid in seven-, nine-, and sixteen-minute stretches; language, though ornamental, serves the story (and moreover, the song).

The University of Wisconsin's Badger Herald also reviews the album.

Even though the album has only five tracks, Newsom creates an interesting, masterful song of near-epic proportions on each one. A full orchestra, directed by Van Dyke Parks, accompanies Newsom’s quick and intricate harp playing. In addition, Newsom’s vocals, which can be likened to either Neil Young or an asthmatic child, powerfully emote her grandiose, ambitious narratives.

The Guardian discusses the longlist for the richest literary prize in the world, the 2007 International Impac Dublin Award.

Gothamist interviews the Subjects.

Let's get this out of the way, where did your band name originate?
JS - Subjects
DS - We had an argument over grammar and did it out of spite because we were mad at each other.

In LA Weekly, author Dave Eggers celebrates the tenth anniversary edition of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.

This book is like a spaceship with no recognizable components, no rivets or bolts, no entry points, no way to take it apart. It is very shiny, and it has no discernible flaws. If you could somehow smash it into smaller pieces, there would certainly be no way to put it back together again. It simply is. Page by page, line by line, it is probably the strangest, most distinctive, and most involved work of fiction by an American in the last twenty years.

BBC News reports that Czechs are rushing to read Milan Kundera's epic novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, is finally available in their native language.

The first official Czech-language edition hit bookstores in the Czech Republic in late October, and has already sold out in many.

Time lists its top 100 "All-Time" albums.

The New York Inquirer interviews Keith Gessen, editor of the literary journal, n+1.

Johnny Cash now has an official YouTube channel.

see also:

this week's CD & DVD releases


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