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April 14, 2008


Carl Newman of the New Pornographers talks to the Washington Post's Express.

Although less convoluted than his usual writing, Newman's penning of the romantic title track still packs a beautiful punch in its well-crafted images. Newman agrees that while his words have always spoken to his audience, this is his most relatable song yet. "People say I write very oblique or elliptical or obtuse lyrics," he says, "and on 'Challengers' I wanted a song that was that was very clear and very clearly about something."

The Guardian profiles Pitchfork.

Like earlier taste-setters, Pitchfork operates in the grey area where bands appeal to more than the few thousand fans of specialist sites, but haven't been picked up by MTV and other purveyors of commodity musical experiences. The current buzz is around albums such as Visiter (Dodos), Street Horrrsing (F*ck Buttons), Hercules and Love Affair, and Vampire Weekend. It's not Britney Spears, R.E.M. or the Foo Fighters, and the site hasn't even reviewed Linkin Park's albums. Pitchfork is more about what might take off tomorrow than yesterday's news.

The New Yorker features new short fiction by Sana Krasikov, "The Repatriates."

The Toronto Star interviews author Jhumpa Lahiri.

"A lot of writers treat the short story as a stepping stone or apprentice work," says Lahiri, who has a public reading April 22 at Harbourfront Centre's Brigantine Room. "Then they spend the rest of their lives writing novels, as if they've mastered the short story and moved beyond it. I never feel that it's something that I'll master or that it was a means to an end."

In These Times interviews author Junot Diaz.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was on nearly everyone’s list of the best novels of the year. What do you think is going on culturally, politically or in the world of contemporary literature that explains its popularity?

I wish that it was some sort of sea change, but I’m not so sure. This is the same culture that will turn around next year and nominate and celebrate a deeply conservative, deeply troubling text. I’m not so certain that this concept of linear progress is all that accurate. We have multiple, concurrent strands in literature and sometimes some of these strands are more dominant, and sometimes some of them are more recessive. It’s kind of a dance.

Popmatters interviews author David Baldacci.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Widow for One Year by John Irving. There’s a scene in the book where a little boy’s father has just been found dead in bed in a hotel the family is staying at. The mom doesn’t want to tell him so they leave the hotel and she tells him a little fib about his daddy coming to join them later. The little boy waves bye to his Dad as the car pulls away. I read the book when my oldest child was about that age and it just hit me like a sledgehammer. I couldn’t stop weeping. John Irving is a great writer and apparently I’m a very emotional dad.

Popmatters offers a US summer music festival primer.

The Guardian has posted an excerpt from Mark E Smith's memoir, Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith, and is soliciting fan encounter stories about the Fall's frontman.

Popmatters interviews singer-songwriter Jaymay.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Midori in Haruki Murakami’s book Norwegian Wood. Although I haven’t read it in a while and maybe I’ve changed. I like to think of myself as Holden Caulfield, but that’s just because Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book. I’m prolly more of a Phoebe than a Holden anyway because I changed my name too. Or maybe I’m one of Kafka’s characters since I’m crazy bout coffee.

The New York Times profiles "author" Noam Cohen, who has written over 20,000 books.

But these are not conventional books, and it is perhaps more accurate to call Mr. Parker a compiler than an author. Mr. Parker, who is also the chaired professor of management science at Insead (a business school with campuses in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore), has developed computer algorithms that collect publicly available information on a subject — broad or obscure — and, aided by his 60 to 70 computers and six or seven programmers, he turns the results into books in a range of genres, many of them in the range of 150 pages and printed only when a customer buys one.

Five Chapters is celebrating its 75th serialized short story this week with a contribution from Kate Christenson, author of The Great Man, winner of the 2008 PEN/Faulkner award for fiction.

see also: Christensen's Largehearted Boy Book Notes music playlist for The Great Man

Best Free Documentaries shares a streaming version of Comic Book Heroes unmasked, which includes interviews with Stan Lee, Frank Miller, and others.

Pitchfork reviews one of the year's most anticipated albums (for me, at least), Frightened Rabbit's new album, Midnight Organ Fight (out tomorrow), giving it an 8.1.

The key here is Scott's urgent-yet-emotive songwriting. Midnight Organ Flight is full of rousing barnburners that flicker with soul, ballads that ache with masculine vulnerability, and Frightened Rabbit's best song yet, opener "The Modern Leper". Built on insistently downstroked guitars and drums that build from a gallop to a thundering crash, this Pixies-go-acoustic track swells with self-loathing. "Is that you in front of me/ Coming back for even more of exactly the same?/ You must be a masochist/ To love a modern leper on his last leg," sings Scott, and rarely has a song with such anthemic, air-drum-worthy fills been shot through with so much personal revulsion.

The Edmonton Journal profiles Drawn and Quarterly's new imprint of small graphic novels, Petit Livres.

Stacked one on top of the other, the four titles from the recently inaugurated "Petits Livres" (French for small books) imprint -- a line of books promising "small-and-affordable" art books with a contemporary graphic/comic-art vibe -- are only three centimetres thick.

Stella Spice lists twenty great music blogs.

Comics Should Be Good! lists six traits of superhero fiction.

The New York Daily News interviews cartoonist Jeffrey Brown.

DN: Can you explain what your latest book, "Little Things," is about?

Jeffrey Brown: As the title would suggest, it's about the everyday moments that we tend to overlook and how those are actually such meaningful parts of our lives. "Little Things" tries to champion the everyday normal life as something worthwhile and meaningful. Structurally, it's a bunch of short stories that go back and forth in time, it's more about atmosphere and mood than chronological narrative.

Isabel Allande talks to NPR's Weekend Edition about her latest book, the memoir The Sum of our Days.

Most of her family agreed to let her expose their lives in print. "I learned a lot about each of them," Allende says. "My mind works like a storyteller. I want the highlights, the lowlights, the tension, the tragic. That's what interests me."

An excerpt from the book is also presented.

Southern Shelter features mp3s of a March performance by Pride Parade.

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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