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December 31, 2006


The Daily Scotsman lists the "literary losers of 2006."

Critic with Angriest Bee in Bonnet

Goes to Neel Mukherjee, whose tirade against Irvine Welsh's Bedroom Secrets Of The Master Chefs almost made us feel sorry for the middle-aged erstwhile rebel. Beginning by claiming the book was "so awful that... it invents its own category of awfulness", Mukherjee warmed to his theme in a crescendo of indignation ("lazy, dishonest") ending "those howls of rage of his early years have turned to the empty baying of a dog. Take him away". In his defence, Mukherjee is right.

The Toronto Sun finds out what's on hockey star Sidney Crosby's iPod.

Q. What's playing on your ipod right now? Rock music. Foo Fighters. Three Days Grace. Pretty much everything.

The Boston Globe profiles the online writing community, The Frontlist.

But the lone thwarted writer now has an alternative, albeit a virtual one. A new online project called The Frontlist ( aims to create a new kind of writers' community (to alleviate the solitude) and a better pipeline to publishers (to improve the odds of success).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes 2007 "literary predictions based on true stories."

Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon form their own publishing company and produce a series of comic books with a neurotic mother of four as the superhero.

Comic Book Resources offers its year-end lists.

The Oregonian lists its favorite books of 2006.

If you use the new social networking service built around bookmarks, Blue Dot, feel free to add me as a friend.

Author Will Self talks to the Globe and Mail.

Self speaks, as he writes, as a man in love with his inner thesaurus, in thrall to his facility with words. Words are a theatrical pleasure. When Mrs. S. calls upstairs with some dinner suggestions, Self responds, "I believe anything that makes life easier should be heartily enjoined," which is certainly more resonant than "whatever bakes your potato, babe."

The Edmonton Journal rounds up the five top graphic novels of 2006.

The Observer profiles Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, and her control over the series.

Rowling has also maintained a remarkably strong grip on the Potter franchise. When a drooling and slavering Hollywood plunged its talons into the series, Rowling demanded that each film be shot in Britain, with an all-British cast. Meanwhile, the official sponsor, Coca-Cola, was ordered to donate $18m to charity. Nobody stepped out of line.

The San Francisco Chronicle posts excerpts from its 2006 pop quizzes with musicians.

The Observer profiles David Bowie as he turns 60, and has several celebrities from author Irvine Welsh to actress Scarlett Johansson comment on the singer's legacy.

The New York Times remembers author Jack Kerouac's time in Northport, New York.

“He never had any money, so he’d get your ear till you bought him a drink, always Schenley’s whiskey,” Bob Reid, a 69-year-old clammer, recalled of Jack Kerouac’s six years here, much of them spent in Murphy’s, a salty bar overlooking the public dock where the fishermen, lobstermen and clammers would come in still wearing their smelly hip waders.

“He dressed like a bum, wore an old ratty overcoat and always needed a shave,” Mr. Reid added. “We knew he was a writer but we didn’t know he was famous. He never talked about books, maybe because we weren’t exactly a book crowd.”

The New York Times profiles Dr. Daniel Leviton, author of This Is Your Brain on Music.

This summer he published “This Is Your Brain on Music” (Dutton), a layperson’s guide to the emerging neuroscience of music. Dr. Levitin is an unusually deft interpreter, full of striking scientific trivia. For example we learn that babies begin life with synesthesia, the trippy confusion that makes people experience sounds as smells or tastes as colors. Or that the cerebellum, a part of the brain that helps govern movement, is also wired to the ears and produces some of our emotional responses to music. His experiments have even suggested that watching a musician perform affects brain chemistry differently from listening to a recording.

In the New York Times, critic Jon Pareles lists 2006 album releases that "almost got away."

The Japan Times has its contributors list the best books about Asia.

wheN killeD liKe roostErs is aggregating music bloggers' best album lists from 2000-2006.

In the New York Times, Chuck Klosterman compares the geniuses of Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson.

As with Barrett, it is difficult to separate Wilson’s madness from his brilliance; the two qualities seem completely intertwined, and that can make the music both men created feel unworldly and romantic. But in the end, which quality took over: madness or genius? Which quality dictated their careers?

At Salon's Audiofile, Thomas Bartlett lists the 20 best exclusive downloads offered throughout the year.

Anyhow, here are my 20 favorite downloads from Audiofile this year. As usual, they're not as eclectic as I'd like, as it's still the case that indie rock is the only genre to have fully embraced the Web and the idea of giving away songs on it as an effective promotional tool. Regardless, much as I wish there were more jazz, more world music, any classical, etc., this is still a batch of 20 songs that I'm proud to have hosted.

see also:

Largehearted Boy's favorite albums of 2006
2006 Year-end Music List Compilation
this week's CD & DVD releases


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