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February 7, 2007


The Lansing State Journal interviews Mariah Cherem of the Avatars.

Q. Would you ever just focus on music?

A. It's hard to say. My two best friends, that's what they do full-time. They're called the Von Bondies. The first time the Avatars played here, we were on tour with the Von Bondies. I've known the singer Jason (Stollsteimer) for eight years. I'm like part of the extended family. I was in Jason's wedding. I'm so happy to see them succeed. At this point in my life, if something like that amazing were to happen, I'd have to go with it. But musicians who do it full time don't get enough credit for what a hard life that is.

The Des Moines Register lists the top 5 songs over 10 minutes.

The New York Sun profiles author (and Brooklyn native) Jonathan Littell.

Selling in droves and inspiring acres of newsprint, the standout novel in France this publishing season is Jonathan Littell's "Les Bienveillantes." This sensationalistic Holocaust story, which presents itself as the confessions of a gay, incestuous, patricidal S. S. officer living incognito in rural France, is stirring up controversy as well. Of course, a little notoriety about a celebrated French novel is not unheard of, but the nationality of this particular novel's author is. By season's end, Jonathan Littell, a Brooklyn native and son of Cold War spy novelist Robert Littell, had walked away with the grand jury prize of the Academie Française, along with the most prestigious of all, the Prix Goncourt — only the second time in history the juries have anointed the same book.

The Boston Globe reviews the short story compilation, New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories From America and Beyond.

Some might harbor the notion that these abbreviated stories are the natural byproduct of a society with an ever-diminishing attention span. Instead, this "sudden fiction" is as piquant as a private joke, as laden with unspoken meaning as a sigh. Time and again, these writers prove good things can come in small packages, and that size doesn't always matter.

Heidi James, owner of the publisher Social Disease, talks to the Guardian about her internet-centric publishing philosophy.

James sums up Social Disease's raison d'être as: "Zadie Smith is not f*cking interesting", and neither are Monica Ali and the dozens of other writers of similar social comedies that emerged in the wake of White Teeth's huge success. "All this postmodern irony is just so dull," James explains. "And I realised that I really hate the homogeneity of the publishing world where it's next to impossible to get genuinely interesting work published. The big publishing houses would have you believe that there isn't a market for new and exciting work that takes a few risks and makes a demand on it's readers, but that's bollocks. Absolute bollocks."

Wikipedia lists steampunk books.

Popmatters interviews Menomena guitarist/keyboardist Brent Knopf.

Let’s talk about your second album, Under An Hour. It was an accompaniment to a dance piece that one of your friends made, right?

Yeah, we have a couple friends. One is Tahni Holt, she is the choreographer, and another friend Marty Schnapf, and he is an installation artist and they were putting together a dance performance for an international arts festival in Portland and they asked us to do the music for it. It seemed like an interesting challenge so we agreed to do it.

New York magazine interviews indie comic Eugene Mirman.

Who should be the next president?

Harrison Ford. I would like to see him punch Mitt Romney during a debate. Actually, as long as it's an actor, I don't care who it is.

Bich Minh Nguyen talks to NPR's All Things Considered about her memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner.

No Fact Zone has a preview of Stephen Colbert's "Americone Dream" Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor.

NPR's Fresh Air interviews Elif Shafak, author of the novel, The Bastard of Istanbul.

Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown visits WXPN's World Cafe.

Yoko Ono talks to Salon.

Chicago's Metromix interviews singer-songwriter Lily Allen.

Shins guitarist Dave Hernandez talks to Newcity Chicago about the band's new album, Wincing the Night Away.

"There was way more pressure for `Chutes Too Narrow,'" guitarist Dave Hernandez says of what the band was feeling while preparing the record. "That was my impression of the vibe. With `Wincing,' we felt less pressure because we were given more time to record, write and everything."

Bookslut's February issue is yet another wonderful collection of articles, including interviews with Edmund White, Clifford Chase, Robert Olen Butler, and Nick Antosca (whose Book Notes essay for Fires will be posted later this morning).

Author Kevin Brockmeier talks to Newcity Chicago about writing his novel, The Brief History of the Dead.

The methodical switching of story lines, chapter by chapter, could've created a disjointed, choppy final product, but the author seamlessly transitions from one hero to the other. "I split it up," he says of the process. "I wrote the first chapter, to begin with. Then I wrote all the even-number chapters, the Antarctic chapters, then I filled in the odd-number chapters. There were a couple of advantages. One of them was that the Laura chapters are from a self-contained perspective--there's a close third-person centered around her point of view. I felt that if I kept interrupting myself [it wouldn't have worked]. Because I wrote her section of the book first, I kind of kept a running tally of who she remembered, who was in The City."

see also: Brockmeier's Book Notes contribution for the book

Director John Waters puts his iPod on shuffle for the A.V. Club.

Keren Ann, "Sailor & The Widow"

John Waters: I don't listen to iPods that much. When I do, it's always in Provincetown at the beach, when I'm riding my bicycle, which is probably dangerous. I can barely work the iPod. I'm technologically challenged. I try to put songs on that I don't know, that I'm not sick of, ones that at first I don't even know what they are when they pop up, and I think, "What's this song?" But there are some CDs that I like. I have Keren Ann's CDs. I like her. She sang in French a lot, but this one was an early one. I looked it up and it's from an album called Not Going Anywhere, which I think is mostly in English. She talks so fast, but she's so French and so cool. I'm a big fan of understated stuff sometimes, especially at the beach, and this is a story about a sailor and a widow, and it's just very cool. I love the name, Not Going Anywhere. She's not making any great claims.

Sarah Silverman answers love and sex questions at he A.V. Club.

Singer-songwriter Mitch Easter talks to Greensboro's Yes! Weekly.

"It was just stupidity, being busy," Easter says by way of explaining his hiatus as a recording artist. "When Let's Active fell apart I said I would be back with another record soon. During that time I would record songs. In the nineties I had this completely pointless crisis of confidence. 'I'm a fluffy eighties guy, and now this is something different.' You should always put the stuff out there, and let people take it or leave it."

Music critic Robert Christgau lists every Pazz and Jop list from 197--2005, and includes his own lists as well as his year-end essays.

Metal Underground reports that this summer's 25-date Ozzfest tour will be free for fans (no mention of what Ticketmaster fees for the "free" tickets will be).

Drowned in Sound rounds up January's music releases.

T-shirt of the day: "Petrolicide"

The Deli offers musicians home recording tips.

see also:

this week's CD & DVD releases


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