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June 1, 2008


The San Francisco Bay Guardian's Noise blog lists the criteria for a good tribute band.

With this glut of impersonators, parameters by which to judge are essential. First there's the sound. While it’s vital to cut the lead vocalist some slack - ever try to match Bruce Dickinson’s vocal theatrics, much less in front of people? - if the vocals don’t make the cut, it’s over. No magic, no tribute, and no closing your eyes and forgetting.

Kim Deal of the Breeders talks to the Boston Globe.

Although flattered, Kim isn't rushing to claim any "godmother of alt-rock" trophy. "I'm not Catholic and the reason I feel like I have to say that is because I am the godmother to somebody, and I'm really bad at it. So I hope I'm not the godmother to anybody else."

The Los Angeles Times interviews Nam Le about his debut short fiction collection, The Boat.

In that story, a writing instructor says, "Ethnic literature's hot." Is there such a category? Should there be?

Everyone I know who has to deal with this question -- how much of my family background am I allowed or obligated or reluctant to write about? -- has strong reactions to it. But the category is problematic for me. It's not that fiction shouldn't deal with immigrant stories -- huge chunks of my favorite modern fiction deal with exactly those questions. But I think writers resist being pigeonholed. That can do violence to the whole contract that writers and readers should have, whereby writers get the chance to seduce, and the reader is swayed or not. If you preempt that with a label, any label, whether it's "chick lit," "ethnic lit" or "genre lit," then it undermines that relationship.

The Oregonian is also enamored with the book.

These stories are so beautifully written and cross emotional barriers of time and place with such clear vision and strong command of language we can only wonder with awe what Nam Le will offer us next.

The Miami Herald and Palestine Herald offers summer reading suggestions.

Webupon lists the top sites that deliver free music.

NPR's Weekend Edition profiles Be Your Own Pet.

Be Your Own Pet's music has been described as punk, garage rock and just plain fun. The band certainly hits all the right notes. Songs about boredom: Check. Songs about zombies: Check. Songs tagged for violent content and live shows that ended in food fights... well, that may or may not be "just plain fun," but those can be checked off the list, too.

The Observer interviews Lykke Li.

What do your parents do?

They live on a mountain top in Portugal. Mum is a photographer and Dad does world music and plays almost every instrument except for drums. [Her mother Kärsti Stiege was in Swedish female punk band Tant Strul, and her father, Johan Zachrisson, was in Swedish reggae rock band Dag Vag.]

The Independent reviews Brock Clarke's novel, An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England.

If verging on the fantastical at times, unlike so much comic fiction, this novel is not spoilt by a tendency to drain the humour by over-explaining the jokes. In fact Clarke manages, with considerable dexterity and flourish, to pull out of the fire a series of absurdist scenarios and radically screwball characters that never stretch credulity.

see also: Clarke's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the book

The Scotsman profiles Patti Smith, who is never afraid to speak her mind.

"Artists have been very dull through the Bush administration," Smith says. "I'm disappointed, but a lot of it was out of fear after September 11. There has been a lot of fear and silence in my country. I don't think the Bush administration has been good for anything. It wasn't good for art, it wasn't good for music, and it certainly wasn't good for Iraq."

Read at Work offers a clandestine way to read public domain poetry and short fiction.

The Times Online profiles Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland.

Joseph O’Neill, a lean, dark, Irish-born author raised in Holland, educated at Cambridge, trained at the English bar and resident in New York, was, until recently, unaware of his genius. Indeed, prior to the recent publication of his novel, Netherland, he was a peripheral public figure: an author known for two comic novels and an arresting family memoir, Blood-Dark Track; an insightful, readable critic; and as the husband of Vogue’s sassy fashion writer Sally Singer. Netherland – the first great novel set in the world of New York cricket – has changed everything. Now O’Neill is fêted by the magi of the American literary establishment. He sits at the top of Amazon’s best-seller lists. Manhattan taxis play interviews with the author on their in-car TVs. New York Magazine, meanwhile, has declared O’Neill “King of New York”. But what really ices his cake is the literary company he is now said to keep: F Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth and VS Naipaul to name three.

The Mississippi Writers Page offers a literary landmarks map for the state.

The Times Online explores the trend of pop stars performing at private parties.

“In the past couple of years, it has become almost essential to have a pop star perform at your party,” says Hannah Sandling, a celebrity stylist who has seen everyone from Tom Jones, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick to Justin Timberlake at functions limited to a few hundred guests. “It used to be that a decent cover band would do; now people expect the real deal. Mostly, it’s black-tie functions – after a sit-down dinner, you congregate in a room for the entertainment. It sounds stuffy, but the atmosphere is electric. Just to be that close to a star is such a buzz. I was at the Whitney gig and she was just a few feet away, dripping in diamonds. I do like regular gigs, but these are much more exciting.”

The Ya Ya Yas is a litblog written by three young adult librarians.

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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