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May 25, 2008


The Winnipeg Sun lists five essential REM songs.

Author Julian Barnes discusses his recreational reading with the Guardian.

I always buy and acquire more books than I can ever possibly read. There are tottering piles in my study. I think there are the books that you never start, and then there are books you get slightly stuck on, not necessarily because you aren't enjoying them. I'm currently reading Alex Ross's book on 20th century music, The Rest Is Noise, which is an absolutely wonderful introduction to 20th century classical music and jazz and, for some reason, I haven't read it for a week and I'm feeling guilty about that already.

The Toronto Star reviews Dean Wareham's memoir, Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance.

Dean Wareham is a rock star – sort of. Like countless indie musicians before and after him, Wareham has spent his career in a no man's land somewhere between obscurity and mainstream success. His fans are numerous enough that he can earn a living with regular club gigs, but not quite numerous enough to make that living an enviable one.

All of which makes Wareham a refreshing rock memoirist. The genre is usually given over to tales of fiscal excess and champion debauchery, but Black Postcards, Wareham's new book, is about as far from Mötley Crüe's The Dirt as you can get.

see also: the Largehearted Boy guest review of the book

The Seattle Times interviews litblogger Mark Sarvas, author of the new novel Harry, Revisited.

Q: You're as much an advocate for certain books as a reviewer, as well as a novelist. How do you juggle these roles?

A: I wear three separate hats (reviewer, advocate, novelist). I'm a wonderful compartmentalizer.

The novelist part is fairly easy to keep separate. The TEV site exists as a vessel for my enthusiasms. I don't pretend to bring the writing on the blog to the level of rigor of my book reviews. As a reviewer, I try to bring a disciplined approach to that work.

The blog is a reflection of the proprietor. For me, the most rewarding part is the conversation I have with my readers. They disagree, they dispute, but they're generally civilized. "The Elegant Variation" is a virtual literary salon where people can come and chat.

The Observer profiles author Siri Hustvedt.

Before I meet Siri Hustvedt, I expect her to be cool. I read somewhere that she once went to Studio 54 wearing nothing but a swimsuit. Plus, I know she is married to Mr Cult New York Novelist himself, Paul Auster, who is as dark as she is fair, and that they live in a brownstone in the smartest part of Brooklyn. As I walk down the street to this house, dappled sunlight illuminating book-lined interiors, I'm thinking: this is going to be Woody Allen meets Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir; this is going to be all black polo necks and sassy talk about therapists and Norman Mailer and who will inherit his mantle. Which just goes to show how wrong you can be.

The Independent offers an excerpt from her new novel, The Sorrows of an American, while Newsday reviews the book.

The Telegraph profiles, a website that allows fans to invest in bands as well as offer reviews.

Slicethepie's sales pitch is that just as file-sharing site Napster and publishing platforms such as MySpace revolutionised the way bands distribute their tracks to potential fans, so it aims to challenge the conventional economics of music production. Here, fans get to help their favourite unsigned bands record and release an album - and they can then share in the profit if the band goes on to sell more than 10,000 copies.

The Independent profiles author Philip Pullman.

Although Pullman published his first book in 1972, it was 14 years more before the success of The Ruby in the Smoke allowed him to become a full-time author. "I have always written what I wanted to write," he said. "I have never considered the audience for one second. Ever. It's none of their business what I write! Before publication, I am a despot." That sounded like the sort of thing only a massively successful writer would say. "Not so! I was saying that, feeling that, working like that, 30 years ago, when I wasn't successful."

Pullman also talks to the Guardian about his new weekly comic serial, The Adventures Of John Blake.

As for the technique of getting the story down on paper, I've found that the best way to think of it is as a screenplay. I describe what we have to see, and write down what the characters say, and let John do the rest. The real fun comes when you realise that you can do something in a comic that ordinary prose finds very hard: you can write in counterpoint. A character can say one thing and think another, simultaneously; we can see a picture of one scene while a caption continues to speak of another.

The Telegraph explains how "old geezer Neil Diamond became the new king of pop."

The Austin American-Statesman, Cape Cod Times, and Baltimore Sun offer summer reading guide.

The Observer's literary editor recaps his ten year tenure at the newspaper.

Heaven or hell? It's too soon to say. This is a story whose outcome remains mysterious. There's no doubt that this transitional decade from the 20th to the 21st century has been decisive, but no one knows when or how it will end. One thing is certain: the appetite for print is growing. In 1996, there were between 60,000 and 100,000 new titles in the UK each year. By 2007, it was pushing 200,000. That's the biggest annual output of any country in the Western world, turning over some £4bn a year.

The Guardian profiles author Joseph O'Neill, author of the critically acclaimed npvel Netherland.

O'Neill's Netherland, published this month - the name a pun on the main character's Dutch nationality - has been described as the 'wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we've yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Centre fell'.

In the Sunday Herald Santogold profiles herself.

HARUKI MURAKAMI IS FUNNY AND SMART, and his book The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is so well-written. I love the way he uses fiction to describe very real emotional and psychological journeys and takes reality into magical places.

Nam Le talks to NPR's All Things Considered about his short story collection, The Boat.

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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