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February 14, 2008


Newcity Chicago examines the trend of literary readings in alternative venues.

"I think reading series at bars provide literate folks with a more interesting thing to do than watching sports while getting tanked," says past RUI participant Kathie Bergquist. Bergquist is the author of "The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Chicago" and also the manager of Women and Children First Bookstore in Andersonville. She names Danny’s Tavern in Bucktown and the Hungry Brain as other great bars that host frequent readings, but acknowledges that they do pose somewhat of a threat to typical readings that don’t generally provide attendees with alcohol.

BBC News interviews Leslie Feist.

Unfortunately you missed out on winning a Grammy, what had you thought your chances were?

Of course it would have been nice, but I have taken quite a few Juno awards home over the years. They are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys. Really those prizes are for the parents.

The Grammys are different, though, it's sort of like having a PhD, you carry those three letters around with you for the rest of your life.

The Advocate interviews Jeanne Leiby, editor and director of the Southern Review literary journal.

The Hollywood Reporter profiles the Drive-By Truckers.

In a world of real justice, the Drive-By Truckers would at least be headlining a Gibson Amphitheatre-size venue. But calculated pandering rules the mainstream, and this brilliant rough-'n'-tumble outfit bravely travels the alternate highways as perhaps the best rock band in America right now.

The SXSW '08 Insider's Guide offers a blog and forum about the music conference.

Drowned in Sound interviews Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett.

What other plans are there for Final Fantasy before the year is out?

I'm 95 per cent finished one EP and 60 per cent finished another, those will definitely be out before the fall. Maybe even in the next couple of months, we'll see. The new album is really starting to sound good, although all the songs are sounding really, really, really poppy, like a Stereolab record... and I don't know if I like it or not. Stereolab's poppy sound is always tempered by the drone and the beat and the semiotics-textbook lyrics. I don't have those things, I just have saccharine melodies and added seventh chords. But I've written fifteen songs for it already and I'm going to write a bunch more before I start recording, so we'll see what happens.

Singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan writes a short autobiographical piece for Harp.

You know I’m least proud about? That I gave up on music. That I compared myself to others and found myself wanting as an artist and as a person. I swept myself into a corner and forgot about music. I could have shouted louder. Or sung louder. Maybe I still have to but it isn’t in my nature. I would change that if I could.

Comic Book Conventions has an online calendar of upcoming (you guessed it) comic book conventions.

Los Angeles City Beat interviews cartoonist and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi.

Is there something about the mediums of comics and animation that is well suited for telling these kinds of stories?

Absolutely. For example, if we shot this movie with real people, in a geographical place with some type of human being, it becomes this story of a Middle Easterner that lives so far from us, they don’t look like us, etc., etc. There’s something about the abstraction of the drawing – which is the first language of the human being, before writing – something about that anybody can relate to. If you make a drawing or an animation, you don’t really know where it’s happening. We did not want to make an ethnic movie; we wanted to make something universal that anyone can relate to.

The Sacramento News & Review reviews Toby Barlow's debut novel, Sharp Teeth.

Forget your resistance to the idea of a novel-in-poetry. Come see what it does. Pacing to rival a graphic novel, combined with the sort of lush language that makes readers fall into a literary novel with such abandon. And werewolves, the ultimate guarantee of a struggle between our better and lesser angels. But which is which?

see also: Barlow's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the novel

Drowned in Sound interviews Steve Kille and Jason Simon of Dead Meadow.

The Minneapolis City Pages Culture to Go blog lists 30 love songs.

NPR's All Things Considered listeners share their favorite love songs.

KUT features an in-studio video session with singer-songwriter Jose Gonzales.

IGN lists 10 of the best cover songs of all time.

The Village Voice's Sound of the City blog interviews John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.

You're rather prolific in terms of your output, but your work is also consistently substantial. Do you ever get writers block?

I go through times when I don't write much, but I think "writers block" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I don't believe in it. I think the times when you're "blocked" are transitional times when your inspiration is sort of trying to re-direct you toward the place where you'll eventually end up. Thinking of this state as a "block" is really counterproductive, pernicious even: you're not "blocked," you're on a detour, and maybe the sights aren't as pretty, but they're still really valuable. That's my take, anyway. I mean, if you couldn't actually move your hands to make the pen go across the page, that's a legitimate block. Otherwise, sit down and work!

The Anchorage Daily News also interviews Darnielle.

Darnielle said he's not obsessed with monsters, per se. "Monsters are more like little satellite creatures in a big pantheon of lifelong obsession: monsters, cult leaders, dead singers, ghost cowboys. ... There are dozens of them in this sort of personal cosmology I carry around in my skull."

Today's reviews of the Mountain Goats' new album, Heretic Pride:

The Georgetown Voice:

Heretic Pride is better than Get Lonely, but these days, new Mountain Goats albums are like the later Roman emperors: Hadrian was nice, and definitely no Caligula, but you know the Republic’s dead. And we’re responsible.

Under the Radar

Former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell talks to the Cleveland Scene.

Isbell is grateful for the education he received during his six-year tenure with the Truckers — a band known for a tireless work ethic and a backbreaking touring schedule. "I learned about the music business, for better or for worse," he says. "I also learned a lot about touring, pacing myself on the road, and giving everything at every show. To tell the truth, I learned a lot about life in general."

Utne Blogs interviews renowned poster artist Jay Ryan.

You did the artwork for Andrew Bird’s The Mysterious Production of Eggs, and some of that art alluded to the songs’ lyrics, but do you ever feel that you’re creating something unrelated to the music?

Well, the Eggs album in particular was sort of unusual, in that Andrew didn’t tell me specifically what he wanted, but we met several times to talk about what the songs meant to him. So there were concepts that he was coming to me with, and I was trying to find some way to express those concepts. That was a little more oversight than I’m used to getting for most of my work. Sometimes, I’ve got an image that seems like a good idea to me, but I’m not sure that I can really explain why I feel that it’s appropriate for the band’s music. As far as [the posters] being complementary or independent of the music, that, to some degree, is in the eye of the beholder.

Author Jeffrey Eugenides talks to NPR's All Things Considered about the short story collection he edited, My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro.

"I started to realize that not only the love stories that I liked, but actually the love stories that everybody liked, had a certain bittersweet quality to them. The stories in this collection are by no means tragic, but in order to even get to a measure of happiness, the characters usually have to go through a lot of difficulty," Eugenides says.

The Washington Post Express interviews author Mat Johnson about his Incognegro.

» EXPRESS: Why did you choose to tell this story with such a sensitive subject matter in a graphic novel format?

» JOHNSON: The prose that I write is literary fiction and that's usually about the language and more directly about the character. And it's not — even though I've had action in points in some of my books — it's not about a mystery noir thriller. Also, graphic work leads itself to telling a story that is interesting in a visual manner. The type of book that I did with "Incognegro" we probably wouldn't do with prose.

The Elmira Star-Gazette reviews the book.

Written by Mat Johnson, an award-winning author and college professor who is himself of mixed-race descent, and illustrated in rich period detail by Warren Pleece, the book is a must-have for fans of detective fiction, history and graphic novels in general.

Minnesota Public Radio's The Current features former Jayhawk Gary Louris in the studio for an interview and performance.

USA Today's Pop Candy has posted part two of its Comics Crash Course, a list of 25 family-friendly graphic novels.

Add some web Valentines to your site, courtesy of Dirt Farm's Ben Claassen's III.

White Hinterland had its gear stolen after a show in NYC on Tuesday. If you can help reclaim any of it or want to make a donation to help replace the gear, please help. Casey Dienel is not only incredibly talented, but she is also possibly the kindest and gentlest musician I have met while music blogging.

At her blog, Jami Attenberg interviews Janice Erlbaum about her new memoir, Have You Found Her.

see also: Erlbaum's Largehearted Boy Book Notes entry for the book

also at Largehearted Boy:

2007 online music lists
Daily Downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
this week's CD releases


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