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September 12, 2008

Shorties (Philip Roth, Neko Case, and more)

Philip Roth talks to the Independent.

Several stories in Roth's first book, Goodbye, Columbus, emerged from that period – which Roth has returned to in another way. This is his fourth short work in nearly as many years. "I have a feel for this length," he says. "Goodbye, Columbus is this length." Roth also had a good teacher: Saul Bellow. "I remember that Saul, at the end of his life, was writing short novels. One was The Actual; another The Bellarosa Connection. I talked to him about that when he was doing it. I remember being fascinated that he who loved the density and complexity of novels, the spinning out of the narrative in all directions, had found this way of condensing."

The Wall Street Journal also interviews Roth.

WSJ: The other day I bought a copy of Evergreen, a literary publication from the 1960s filled with work by authors such as Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac. Do you think American culture will ever take writers as seriously as it did then?

Mr. Roth: Probably not. It wasn't a golden moment but it was a pretty good moment. I remember that magazine. They published the avant-garde at the time. But too many things have happened to stand between literature and culture for it to be the same. The technological revolution has absorbed the attention of what used to be a readership. Print culture is dying out. To be more specific, readership is dying out. Other things are taking its place. The literary moment has come and half-gone.

The Rocky Mountain News reviews Roth's new novel, Indignation.

Roth's 29th book is a beautifully crafted, but unmistakably world-weary piece of fiction called Indignation, in which the most accomplished literary man to emerge from Newark, N.J., returns once more to his roots - this time in the form of a blood-spattered kosher butcher shop in that teeming city's blue-collar Jewish neighborhood.

The Washington Times lists the top 5 safe Republican anthems.

The Warrnambool Standard lists five great grunge albums.

The Guardian reports that Nick Cave has sold his second novel to Canongate, and the book will be published next year.

The Orlando Sun-Sentinel interviews Jason Hammel of Mates of State.

Alexander McCall Smith will serialize his next novel, Corduroy Mansions, in the Telegraph, and offer a weekly podcast of the audiobook as well.

PopMatters remembers the only Beach Boy who knew how to surf, Dennis Wilson.

“God, what would it be like if Dennis had lived these last thirty years?” wonders producer Jakobson, “because he was just starting to scratch the surface, musically.” What Jakobson says next, however, may come off like rock & roll blasphemy to many: “I’m convinced he would have gone well past his teachers, his brothers and so on,” Jakobson continues. “You couldn’t ask for a greater teacher than Brian Wilson, of course, but I’m sure he would have gone past Brian.”

Eyrie of the Arch-Anarch lists essential science fiction and fantasy books for libertarians.

11 Points lists the 11 best rap graphs.

The guitar of REM's Peter Buck is missing in Helsinki.

The Downtown Express interviews Martha Wainwright.

At the New York Review of Books, Michael Chabon recounts the Democratic National Convention.

Obama was a virtuoso, employing many different registers—preacherly, plainspeaking, jocular, Lincolnesque —to sound common notes, in a regular but loose-feeling progression, like a piece of Ornette Coleman harmolodics. One heard again certain phrases drawn from the week’s supply of references to family, to the American dream, to the failures of the Bush administration, only put better and put over with greater conviction and flair, than anyone else had mustered. There was also something new: a surprising and effective chest-bump with John McCain, introduced as by a drum kick with the one word “enough.

Paste interviews singer-songwriter Damien Jurado.

The Duluth Budgeteer interviews Neko Case.

You once told The Stranger that you hope to see the state of music change in favor of musicians and music fans in your lifetime — what do you think it will take for that to happen? Do you think the rise of independent labels or digital distribution will be a bigger factor?

No, people have to forget about the fake “fame prize,” and they have to quit swallowing the “you’re lucky to be here” lie. Musicians have to stick up for themselves, which is the best way to stick up for the rest of us. Respect yourselves.

Advertising Age profiles Taco Bell's Feed the Beat campaign.

The first phase of Feed the Beat, which began last week, involves recruiting and selecting 100 bands for $500 late-night coupons and placement on Each will post MP3s online, and consumers will begin voting on their favorite acts in October. Mr. Bortz said details of the "integrated marketing campaign" will be available in a few weeks.

The Guardian profiles the new breed of big indie music label in Great Britain.

Things started changing for Domino after 2000, says McDonagh, when they began signing more British acts. "It wasn't a conscious change, really," he explains. "People like Kieran Hebden and Adem were just like Bill Callahan and Stephen Malkmus - idiosyncratic individuals who we thought were great." Franz Ferdinand fell into that category, too, he continues, although the interest from major labels meant both label and band had to take a leap of faith. "But it worked because Laurence gets on amazingly with bands. There's no 'We're going to fly you to Miami,' or 'Let's do this thing for the press.'" He smiles. "He understands the way musicians work and think."

Independent Weekly interviews David Berman of the Silver Jews.

Or more to the point, is your complaint about the self-referential-ism in rock an outcome of the pomo impulse? If you're looking for pieces to pastiche you're not looking to create. So, is it simply related to a backward-looking zeitgeist?

Maybe people will look back on what this culture was and see that it ended with demonstrations of stylistic dexterity and lots of amusement. Everywhere, Americans are consoling themselves with luxury and goods. No one wants to criticize it. People actually get angry on the increasingly rare occasions when it is suggested that bands should keep their music out of commercials. No one wants to talk about it but this is just like the cult of the entrepreneur back in the '80s.

Jezebel compares Republican vice-presidential Sarah Palin's candidacy to the plot of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale.

One nice thing about The Handmaid's Tale is, like Sarah Palin's resume, it's a pretty quick read. Basically the US has become a Christian theocracy where piety is required and women are chattel.

Guardian readers recommend songs about revenge.

Chattanooga's The Pulse interviews singer-songwriter Basia Bulat.

You have a hell of a lot of things going on in your music. Describe to me your process as a writer.

BB: I grew up listening to AM radio, so I developed my ear on Motown, Nina Simone, and folk music. Instrumentally, I’m still stuck in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s as far as influence goes. I just try to write the music how it feels. Sometimes I sing out the notes, sometimes I just know. My brother is my drummer, and that really helps because he gets me, even when I don’t make sense.

T-shirt of the day: anything from There's Something About Barry

Pop Candy finishes off its high school survival week with the 25 best high school albums.

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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