April 23, 2008
The Paris Review interviews Kazuo Ishiguro.
Would you say the writing program helped make you a writer?
The way I see it, I tried to be a songwriter, but the door never opened. I went to East Anglia, everyone encouraged me, and within months I’d published stories in magazines and gotten a publishing contract for my first novel. And it helped me technically as a writer. I’ve never felt that I have a particular facility at writing interesting prose. I write quite mundane prose. I think where I’m good is between the drafts. I can look at one draft, and I have lots of good ideas for what to do with the next one.
The Los Angeles Times examines the increase in sex in literary fiction.
Sex writer and blogger Susie Bright, who has edited several anthologies of erotica, noted that -- as fashion popularizes S&M-style clothing, sitcoms make graphic jokes about sex positions and novelists continue to mix elements of genre and literary writing -- publishers have become open to printing books that take up sex.
"I don't know if you can write literary fiction these days and pretend sex doesn't exist," Bright said.
Her purpose as a writer, she says, is to "convey something and for that I have to trap the reader's attention. If I lose them, then what I write is lost. As a journalist you know that what you write competes with other things in the same paper. Writers often write for friends or critics, and forget readers. I feel the book and characters choose me, and if I allow enough time, they will talk. I ask myself, 'Why am I doing this'? 'Why am I writing about the Gold Rush?' [explored in her book Daughters of Fortune]. Then at the end, I realise I have been exploring something that has been related to me and my life and temperament. It's a book about a woman trapped in Victorian times, trapped in a life and a corset. She decides to confront the masculine world. She has no tools or weapons to fend for herself. She needs to dress like a man, act like a man to survive. Isn't that what my generation of feminists did? Exactly that."
The Telegraph eulogizes poet and author EA Markham.
Their press often compares them to the Velvet Underground but there's weirder, wider feelers in this band, who released an illuminating EP in 2006 titled Covered In Love, where they tapped songs by Desmond Dekker, Arthur Lee (Love) and Jesse Mae Hemphill – as nice a trinity of influences as one could want.
Popmatters interviews David Hajdu, author of The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare And How It Changed America.
Did you make any particularly surprising discoveries over the course of your research for The Ten-Cent Plague?
One of the big shocks to me was how widespread were the comic-book burnings that took place between 1945 and 1955. I knew that there were a few incidents of burning comics, but I never imagined that they took place all over the country for a full decade.
When author Don Lee began writing his latest novel, "Wrack and Ruin," he wanted to do something light. He wanted to set the story in a small northern California town, and make one of his characters a farmer. He said the choice of crops was narrow, and one stood out.
"Brussels sprouts are just funny," he said. "You just mention brussels sprouts to most people, and they start to smile and laugh. I just thought it would be a gas to have this guy grow the one vegetable that nearly everyone hates."
After pouring over the first batch of reissues, Westerberg was maybe a little surprised by himself. "I thought to myself, 'Damnit, I was good. I was real. I know what I was saying, and this was real,'" while Stinson, understatedly, says, "It kind of makes you go, 'Oh, yeah, we did something back then.'"
A four-piece garage-punk band with a Southern-fried psychedelic crust, the Black Lips' reputation for low-brow stunts—on and off stage—often precedes them. Their rap sheet reads like the plot synopsis for some unrealized Porky's clone: Gratuitous nudity, fireworks, cock gags, assorted water sports. Detractors complain that when their shtick gets out of hand the Black Lips are, in the words of Village Voice music critic Tom Breihan, "one of the dumbest, most irritating bands working." But the reality is that their notoriety is backed up with an iron-clad work ethic. This isn't a band that flashes its nipples on national TV (although we wouldn't put it past them) and calls it a night; this is a band with its dirty hands in so many pies that it's miraculous that things haven't gotten stickier than they can handle. There's an ambitious hunger to the Black Lips. You can call them crass or crazy, but you can't ever accuse them of being lazy.
Paste: So much in the record industry has changed since then. Do you think it’s going to be easier or harder for new artists?
Mann: I think it’s going to be harder. Record companies now are…the kinds of deals they make new artists sign are deals where they sign away everything because it’s so hard to make money selling records. So you sign away the money that you’re going to make if you sell t-shirts; it’s this all inclusive thing where it includes merchandise and anything else you may do, songs you have in movies, and anything else.
Variety examines movie producer Scott Rudin's keen eye for literature to transform into films.
Rudin's Gotham base puts his ear close to the ground on lit properties, and he has the nose for what he likes even sometimes when an author hasn't committed more than a page's worth of words to convey the idea. Long before Junot Diaz's novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" won the Pulitzer Prize, Rudin bought the book, simply because he loved its tragic, quirky protagonist.
The album’s called Youth Novels, and deals with some fairly dark subject matter – there’s a definite sense of sadness there. I was wondering where you draw inspiration from with your lyrics, and how relationships – good or bad – come into it…
You’re right about that… but I also think that many of the songs people may think are about love are not about love, or relationships at all. For example ‘Tonight’ – a lot of people think that’s a love song, but it’s not. The album is partly about that part of my life, but also about me – sometimes I’m so fragile and weak, but other times not at all. It’s almost as if I have this much stronger spirit inside that I can’t imagine ever failing me – ‘cause if it did, I can’t even begin to imagine how I’d live. So I’d say it’s more about my own different personalities and that struggle.
Publishers Weekly examines the confusion between labeling thrillers and mysteries.
The basic rule I follow is this: thrillers (spy, legal, medical, etc.) are reviewed under Fiction; mysteries (whodunits, ranging from cat cozies to hard-boiled noir) under Mystery. To make a simple distinction: in a thriller, the heroes are in a race to save the world from known villains out to destroy it; in a mystery, a sleuth seeks to solve a murder committed by an unknown killer whose identity the reader tries to figure out before it's eventually revealed.
NPR's All Things Considered examines the options libraries have in digitizing their collections, and why some are choosing to pay for the service instead of allowing Microsoft or Google to do it for free.
also at Largehearted Boy: