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February 16, 2008


The Chicago Tribune's Turn It Up blog offers a song-by-song review of Wilco's opening night of the band's 7 show Chicago residency.

The Wall Street Journal interviews Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton.

WSJ: Your book opens with a sea monster. Any concerns about mixing literary fiction with the fantastic?

Ms. Groff: Actually, it's a lake monster. And yes, I was massively worried. People have been doing amazing things by blending different genres. Gabriel García Márquez has been out there for many years. There is something energetic and vibrant about genres that aren't traditionally literary. I intended this to be literary fiction, but I got a lot of excitement and joy from writing the monster. I used it as a larger metaphor for the town itself.

The San Francisco Chronicle review the debut novel.

Groff is a master at using art as a pair of gloves with which to handle dark things, but one has the sense she doesn't yet realize either the depth of her talent or the depth of insulation it provides from the human pain she handles. I don't believe a story with so much darkness in it could truly be this lighthearted and magical. Joy can exist alongside deep sorrow, but mere happiness doesn't flourish there. (And brilliant people like Willie exist only atop a mound of non-contenders; Groff doesn't get this.) But the author is young, and this is a fabulous book. Groff is reminiscent of Carol Shields, only more whimsical and inventive. There's something about Groff's town that makes you want to revisit it. Happily, the book has some loose ends, perhaps enough for a Templeton II.

Free Listens reviews (and links to) free and legal audiobooks.

IGN lists the songs they want to hear in Guitar Hero IV.

The Mac Weekly reviews the Mountain Goats new album, Heretic Pride (out next Tuesday).

However, for the first time since 2002's "All Hail West Texas," the Mountain Goats have released an album that works on every level. "Heretic Pride," out next Tuesday, is what Darnielle sounds like with all cylinders firing. He endows his intricate and esoteric songwriting experiments with an infectious sense of melody, and meanwhile he and his band mates have crafted a perfect sonic setting for each song, driven by particularly strong drumming. It's enough to fully disable my rock-critic neurosis, and that's saying something.

The Wall Street Journal also reviews the album.

The Guardian profiles bestselling author James Patterson.

Patterson has no pretensions to highbrow literature. "Look, I'm good at parts of this," he says, in his strong New York accent. "I'm certainly not a world-class stylist. But the storytelling is pretty cool, and the narrative power of the stuff is usually pretty strong." He writes ceaselessly, he explains, because it doesn't exhaust him. "These books are entertainments," he says. "It's a very different process than if you're trying to write Moby-Dick, or The Corrections. That's painful. That's different from very simple, plot-oriented storytelling. If I was writing serious fiction, I'd want more rest time."

In Billboard, Stephen Malkmus acknowledges the contributions of former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss to his music.

Malkmus adds that Weiss, former drummer for iconic alt-rock band Sleater-Kinney, is "committed to her life in music, and I can use a little bit of prodding because, well, I can be kind of complacent. She comes in and pushes things up a notch."

The Times Online profiles the new band of indie musicians who are turning to fiction writing, including Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding) and Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine.

“They're very good jobs to sit side-by-side,” Stace reckons, “because they act as fantastic antidotes to each other. With music, you can write a song in the daytime then play it at a gig that night and everyone claps and tells you how great you are. Being a novelist is thankless - you sit at home, no one applauds, and at the end of the day you might've got no work done at all. I think they balance each other out nicely.”

Drowned in Sound interviews two members of Les Savy Fav.

Cracked lists the 40 most inappropriate children's book covers.

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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