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November 19, 2006


The Palm Beach Post interviews author Gore Vidal.

Q. My favorite novel of yours is Julian, because you're closer in attitude to the Romans than any of your contemporaries, but you rarely indicate your feelings about your own work. How do you assess your books?

A. I don't think about it. Anyone that thinks about their own work is in trouble. It's like sex — if you start thinking about it while you're doing it, it's over. Spontaneity is what I'm after. I sometimes judge others, but not very often. I get readers who like me to read someone like Italo Calvino. I try to get readers to read, not to get them not to read, which is a waste of time in a country that doesn't like to read in the first place. That's 90 percent of book reviewing and it hasn't done literature much good.

The Boston Herald reviews recently released music books.

Author Kate Atkinson talks to NPR's Weekend Edition about her new novel, One Good Turn.

Former Pulp member Jarvis Cocker talks to the Sydney Morning Herald

But Disney videos aside, Cocker is a happy man these days. Why, then, is Jarvis such a cantankerous CD? "Well, I'm getting old, aren't I?" he says. "People generally get grumpier as they get older."

So is it his grumpy old man record? He laughs. "I hope not. Maybe grumpy middle-aged.".

The Observer profiles author Thomas Harris, creator of Hannibal Lecter.

He writes slowly, partly because his books are so fastidiously researched and so dense in arcane reference, but also because, as his fellow bestselling novelist Stephen King has remarked, the very act of writing for him is a kind of torment - King speaks of Harris writhing on the floor in agonies of frustration.

Singer-songwriter Jolie Holland talks to the Santa Cruz Sentinel about being labeled as a "folk" musician.

"I try to ignore it," Holland said of the attempts to label her. "It doesn't have anything to do with me. Folk music is folk music, it's music that people have made for a long time. I have a really strong idea about what that word means, and it's not me."

The Austin American-Statesman profiles the city's independent record stores.

The Times Online reviews Courtney Love's new book, Dirty Blonde.

Love might be a riveting casualty of the celebrity age but, like most narcissists, she makes a lousy biographer.

The Austin American-Statesman reviews the new Thomas Pynchon novel, Against the Day.

"Against the Day" pullulates with subplots, and those subplots give birth to other subplots. Although to speak of them as subplots is misleading — rather, the book is crisscrossed by gigantic doodles. There is the plot involving the Chums of Chance, a crew of Tom Swift-like youngsters who float in and out of the book on their dirigible — and at one point pass through the earth itself, which turns out to be hollow, with egresses placed at either pole. There is T.W.I.T., a cross between a paranormal cult and an intelligence service. There is a search for the lost city of Shambhala. And there are walk-in parts for real people, like the physicist Nikola Tesla, who wants to derive energy from the motion of the earth itself. The novel's good bones — a revolutionary father shot down by the bosses, sons sworn to revenge him, the background of the violent West — are covered by so many layers of narrative fat that they almost disappear.

The Times Online examines the Smiths' influence on current bands.

Indeed, this appears to be the common refrain — that listening to the Smiths has a timeless appeal to those who feel “other” during the crippling teenage years. It’s as if the angst of the skinny, unloved adolescent was trapped in amber between 1982 and 1987 on four studio albums and a handful of compilations. John Peel famously said that the Smiths were the only band who could make him laugh out loud, but humour takes second place with this new breed — and they’ve avoided gladioli, too.

In the Telegraph, Zachary Leader, author of the authorized biography, The Life of Kingsley Amis, explains his relationship with the author and his family.

'Into our china shop of familial sensitivities,' Martin Amis wrote of a previous biographer, '[he] had come lurching and bucking and blundering. Every time he bent over to inspect a shattered vase, he would clear another shelf with the sweep of his backside. What was he doing in here?'

Martin was my friend, and when he asked me to write his father's authorised biography, my first thought was to turn him down. I had already edited Kingsley Amis's Letters (2000), and though my admiration for Amis's writing had grown over the years, as had my fascination with the man, I was wary of signing on for another long stint.

Stylus is recruiting music reviewers.

Indietastic interviews singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche.

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