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July 19, 2008


This Is Nottingham interviews Rufus Wainwright.

And you're also setting Shakespeare's sonnets to music?

Yeah, that's exciting. That is going to be premiered in April in Berlin. I'll orchestrate to maybe nine sonnets, so there's an album in there somewhere. And more Rufus in tight pants (laughs).

The New York Times profiles Girl Talk and the financial model behind the giveaway/sale of its latest album, Feed the Animals.

This is what makes Girl Talk’s experimentation with the value of music so compelling. It’s one thing for various name-brand artists to dabble with giveaways. It’s something else for a creator who has operated artistically, financially and even legally outside the structures of the traditional recording business for his entire career to do so. Will “Feed the Animals” make Girl Talk a rock star? And what would that even mean?

The Detroit News recommends books for summer reading.

The New York Times examines the changing definitions (and prejudices) that surround young adult fiction.

Many adults don’t realize how much the Y.A. genre has changed since their days of reading teenage romances and formulaic novels. “A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. is the Garden of Eden of literature,” said Sherman Alexie, whose first Y.A. novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” won the National Book Award for young people’s literature last year. Even the prestige of that award didn’t make him impervious to the stigma. “Some acquaintances felt I was dumbing down,” Alexie said in a phone interview. “One person asked me, ‘Wouldn’t you have rather won the National Book Award for an adult, serious work?’ I thought I’d been condescended to as an Indian — that was nothing compared to the condescension for writing Y.A.”

The Christian Science Monitor reviews Catherine O'Flynn's What Was Lost, a book I finished last week and thoroughly enjoyed.

O’Flynn is a deft and darkly satiric writer. “What Was Lost” is the kind of book you won’t want to put down until you reach the final page. And even once you’re there, you still won’t be quite ready to let go.

The Globe and Mail also reviews the book.

There's nothing fey about Kate or the novel, and, although you'll find no spoilers here (Reader Advisory: tear off the front flap of the book and destroy), the story takes more than one hairpin turn into darkness while maintaining its almost indecent sense of humour.

In the Globe and Mail, Liam Durcan explains why we read fiction.

Using Nabokov's Pale Fire as an example, Zunshine relates how severely our theory-of-mind abilities can be tested and how ably we respond when she describes the creeping unease and perverse thrill, well known to any reader, that come with the unmasking of an unreliable narrator. The ambiguities and psychological nuances that characterize fiction provide an unrivalled training ground for our abilities as readers of mental states.

David Sedaris talks to the Montreal Gazette about his love of book tours.

"I just think: 'This is what I've always wanted. People are lined up outside the door. People are standing in line to say how much they love me!' "It is exactly what I wanted when I was 8, you know? And it feels as good as I thought it would."

The New York Times interviews Neil Young about the documentary, CSNY: Deja Vu.

But Mr. Young rejected a suggestion that the film might be more about Vietnam than about Iraq.

“It’s about war; it’s not about either one of them,” he said. “In our sound-bite society, ‘Let’s Impeach the President’ and the political side of it seems to be the side that the press focused on the most. But that’s an offshoot of the real story, which is the tragedy of war, and the families, and how it affects people.”

T-shirt of the day: "God Save Stan Lee"

TechCrunch profiles StumbleAudio, a streaming audio service it calls "Pandora for indie music."

The Drowned in Sound community discusses who should be on this year's Mercury music prize shortlist.

The Independent lists five literary hotels.

Pitchfork made my day by announcing that the All Girl Summer Fun Band will release its third album, Looking Into It, on September 23rd.

In the Telegraph, Lionel Shriver reviews Ethan Canin's novel, America America.

This is a solid book, engaging and well crafted. Does it matter that it is also unoriginal? That were the hardback wrapped in brown paper, anyone well read in contemporary American literature would swear on a stack of Bibles that it was written by Richard Russo? Yeah, it probably does matter, but only to those folks well read in contemporary American literature.

The Aspen Times profiles Andrew Bird.

Bird traces his unusual brand of creativity, which results in something genuinely unique on each album, to Chicago.

“It’s another place, like Minneapolis or Iceland, where in the winter, people have to disappear and make art to avoid going crazy,” he said, adding that, in his view, Chicago’s art-music scene may be diminished from what it was a decade ago. “There’s an emphasis on hard word, and a lack of flashiness. They’re kind of cold, industrial, sometimes bleak places, and in the spring people come out of the woodwork and show people what they’ve done.”

The Guardian offers summer fiction reading suggestions.

At NPR's All Things Considered, New York Times reporter Alan Schwartz lists three worthwhile baseball books.

see also: my favorite baseball books

The Times Online profiles the "grandaddy to the superhero generation, Will Eisner.

One of the primary tasks of the cartoonist is to control the path of the reader's eye as it absorbs the comics page. A true artist can control the speed of the eyeball, plant hidden subcontexts and symbols on a given page until the cornea lands at the magic lower right-hand panel where (if the cartoonist has done his job) the mind is helplessly held under a vexing spell compelled to turn the page. At this Eisner was, indeed, a master.

ohnotheydidnt lists the fiercest British frontmen of the decade.

Jonathan Lethem talks to Comic Book Resources about his comics series, Omega the Unknown (collected this fall in a hardcover compilation).

“I’m never thinking about what I or my characters might have to tell to ‘society.’ It just isn’t a term I think in,” Letham said. “The story has some themes, I guess: conformity, franchising versus the small businessman, mediated versus ‘real’ experience, etcetera, but those are pretty much just what sneaked in when I wasn’t looking. In writing it, I concerned myself primarily with the character and material directly -- teenagers with problems, evil robots, corrupt and borderline-autistic superheroes, hamburgers, that sort of thing.”

NPR's Weekend Edition features a live performance by singer-songwriter Amos Lee.

WNYC is streaming last night's Deerhoof show.

also at Largehearted Boy:

daily mp3 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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