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May 24, 2008

Shorties

The New York Times profiles author Salman Rushdie and his new novel, The Enchantress.

If his latest novel is about beauty, it is also about history, religion, East versus West — subjects that have long animated Mr. Rushdie’s writing. It opens with a mysterious blond Westerner traveling to see the emperor in the new capital, Fatehpur Sikri, to reveal a fantastic story, which he does in tantalizing bits like Scheherazade. The Mogor dell’Amore, or the Mughal of Love, one of the various names the traveler adopts, tells Akbar that they are blood relations — a reason-defying statement even ignoring the stranger’s hair color, given that there was virtually no contact between East and West in the 15th century.


JamBands.com interviews Pat Carney of the Black Keys.

MG- I heard that Attack & Release was originally conceived as collaboration with Ike Turner. Is that true and, if so, did you decide to shift gears after his death?

PC- Yeah. We originally just started working on material for a new record and, halfway through that, we were contacted by Danger Mouse and he wanted us to kind of write these songs, send them to him and have Ike Turner sing on the album. It sounded really cool, so we started working on it, but it was taking a really long time to complete anything. So we ended up kind of postponing that project, but asking Brian [Danger Mouse] to produce the album that became Attack & Release.


The Washington Post interviews Chinese writers Ma Jian and Xiaolu Guo.

Is it possible to be a dissident writer within China?

XG: In name only. The party assigns you that classification, so those who call themselves dissident are actually part of the system. No independent stratum exists for a writer who wishes to speak out.

MJ: There is a tradition of artists being servants of the state, part of the propaganda machine. State-sanctioned professional writers have adapted to this situation; the way they survive is to avoid politics or write historical books, and even there, corruption will be confined to the lower echelons. They have no freedom to talk about China as it really is.


Tiny Mix Tapes interviews Sam Sitkoff of Le Loup.

Another thing about the album that’s very apparent is how cohesive it is, both lyrically and in how the songs are ordered. Was that intentional?

Most of the songs were written spontaneously. I’d feel the need to write something, and it would just come out. Once it became clear that it was actually going to be an album, I got more deliberate about bringing back themes and variations. A few musical and lyrical phrases come up throughout the album. It’s mainly because I think an album ought to be more than a collection of songs, even if they’re really good songs. It needs to be a cohesive unit. My favorite albums are the ones that bring back certain ideas and play around with them a little.


The Guardian profiles author Gore Vidal.

At the start of the Democratic presidential nomination, Vidal had favoured Hillary Clinton (a photo in his 1995 memoir, Palimpsest, shows Mrs Clinton visiting him at home in Italy), but recently he switched to "the other side". Not John McCain, of course. "McCain is the village idiot. He is very, very stupid, even by American standards." Barack Obama has begun to impress him - "but only to a point. He doesn't have much to say. I'd rather see a woman as president, if we're going to go in for minorities, but Hillary lost her nerve."


The Los Angeles Times profiles singer-songwriter Inara George and her new album, An Invitation.

An Invitation" is more than the realization of a long-anticipated personal collaboration. On a symbolic level, it marks a convergence of two generations steeped in the city's musical DNA.

On one side is the era of freewheeling creativity that churned at Warner Bros. Records in the late '60s and early '70s, when Parks and Lowell circulated with the likes of Ry Cooder and Randy Newman, Captain Beefheart and the Mothers of Invention. The other part of its legacy is the current bohemian indie-pop scene that has nurtured Inara, bringing her into contact with fellow free spirits such as Eleni Mandell and Becky Stark. (Their informal trio, the Living Sisters, performs today at the Topanga Days Festival.)


In the Guardian, author Zadie Smith praises George Eliot.


The Guardian lists 10 of the bests featuring smoking.


The San Francisco Bay Guardian's Noise blog interviews Marc Masters, author of the book No Wave.

SFBG: What sort of challenges did you face during the writing of the book?

MM: There were surprisingly few hurdles involved. Many of the key figures from no wave are still around and all of them were eager to talk about the time period. The only big absence in the book is Brian Eno, producer of the No New York compilation. We were unable to get him to agree to an interview. The word I got was that his management said he too busy to do any interviews for the entirety of 2007. But I think his absence in the book is interesting, since everyone else has something to say about him. It's as if he was a ghost in no wave, entering the scene briefly and making an impact without actually making any of the music himself.


The New York Times reviews 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Two potent factors make “1001 Books” (published in the United States in 2006 by Universe; $34.95) compelling: guilt and time. It plays on every serious reader’s lingering sense of inadequacy. Page after page reveals a writer or a novel unread, and therefore a demerit on the great report card of one’s cultural life. Then there’s that bullying title, with its ominous allusion to the final day when, for all of us, the last page is turned.


Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel discusses the band's immediate future with the Flint Journal.

"I think we're definitely doing our own things for a while after the tour," Boesel said. "Jenny has a new solo record coming out, and then she's touring at the end of August.

"I tour with (Bright Eye's) Conor Oberst and play on his records. I'm going on tour with him in mid-July. Pierre has a solo album coming out. We all have stuff in the works."

http://www.mlive.com/music/index.ssf/2008/05/rilo_kiley_dances_under_the_bl.html


NPR's Morning Edition gets summer reading suggestions from booksellers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Christian Science Monitor's Chapter & Verse blog, the Charlotte Observer, the Rocky Mountain News, and Wisconsin Daily Cardinal also offer summer reading lists.


Pitchfork has unleashed its 2008 guide to summer music festivals.


The Short Review reviews short story collections from around the world and interviews authors (including Cristina Henriquez and Neil Smith).


Drowned in Sound interviews Born Ruffians guitarist Luke LaLonde.

Do you find that Toronto’s music scene is unjustly neglected at the expense of Montreal's?

It’s hard to say because I don’t read a lot of the music press, especially outside of Canada... I mean the focus on the Canadian music scene came maybe like three or four years ago with the Arcade Fire’s first album and then there was of Montreal, The Unicorns... I thought it was like a fad that kinda fizzled away, a trendy thing for a while... Toronto for me doesn’t really have a sound. I don’t even know if any city has a scene, it’s more like an outsider’s perspective, or at least I think you can only really say what a scene is maybe ten years down the line when you have more perspective on it.


At NPR's All Things Considered, author Tony Horwirtz shares his love for Jonathan Raban's Old Glory: A Voyage Down the Mississippi.

Old Glory is a travel classic without Himalayan ascents, exotic foods or dangerous encounters in distant lands. Instead, it's a meander through the middle of America, by a bookish man who loiters at shabby taverns in has-been towns.


IGN chooses appropriate theme songs for videogame heroes.


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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