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September 14, 2008

Shorties (American Widow, TV on the Radio, and more)

The Los Angeles Times reviews one of my favorite graphic novels of the year, American Widow, by Alissa Torres.

"What would motherhood be like without widowhood?" Torres asks late in the book, and it's a question that resonates more deeply than any other here. At the heart of "American Widow" is the notion of Sept. 11 as a personal, rather than a national or political, tragedy, which, this achingly tender work reminds us, is exactly what it was.

Scotland on Sunday interviews members of TV on the Radio.

The album was made on a local scale in Sitek's studio, with a horn section borrowed from the Brooklyn Afrobeat band Antibalas. "I think the album as a format is dying," he muses. "To do a record of this magnitude, just in terms of the sheer number of things that had to be done and the amount of musicians involved and the amount of studio hours spent – if we didn't have my studio, who knows?"

The Chicago Sun-Times reviews Neal Stephenson's new novel, Anathem.

Because of the internal strength of Stephenson's storytelling, Anathem achieves transcendence of traditional commercial boundaries that once were meant merely to describe, but have since evolved into an unimaginative system that defines literature far too narrowly.

The Tennessean's Tune In Nashville blog examines the career of Jason and the Scorchers, Nashville's "greatest rock band."

"I saw them first in 1982 in Atlanta," said DeCurtis, who was then a freelance writer. "Rock in the early '80s was very British-oriented, and REM and the Scorchers led this American counter-revolution. There was a neo-traditional aspect to the Scorchers, going back to the country sources that are the American grain. Putting that forward in the context of punk rock and upheaval and rebellion gave it a depth. And then seeing them live, there was a feeling that the whole stage was going to levitate."

Philip Roth talks to the Los Angeles Times.

"Fifty years ago," he says, "the serious writers -- the best writers -- were not terribly engaged by the immediate present. That was left to competent journeymen: Herman Wouk, Leon Uris, Allen Drury. But now the situation has changed. I would use 9/11 as an example. People feel challenged by it. How can they do it, how can they work it in?"

The Louisville Courier-Journal interviews comedian Margaret Cho.

Q. You've always been open about your progressive political views, so I have to ask, what do you think of Sarah Palin?

A. I'm terrified about Sarah Palin. I thought that it was a big mistake for the Republicans to pick her, but now I think it was really smart. I think she's actually kind of sexy but I'd never vote for her. She's such an anti-feminist. She wants to send women back into the Stone Age.

The Times Online profiles author John le Carre.

It is 45 years since The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which made his name, and le Carré is now in his 77th year. He does not bridle at being considered a “genre writer” - his often terse and chilly prose is rightly well regarded, in any case. And he points out that his last big success, The Constant Gardener, did not have a spy in it at any point. “Nobody noticed that,” he says, chuckling.

T-shirt of the day: "I'm so adjective I verb nouns."

Amy Tan talks to NPR's All Things Considered about turning her novel The Bonesetter's Daughter into an opera.

"You know, the key was really to cut out the words and let the music stand for the emotions, because that's what opera is," Tan says. "It's music, it's performance, it's great voices. And the story was a framework in a way."

LAist interviews singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop.

In your lyrics you display a pretty broad vocabulary—some of which is kind of a throwback to an earlier age. What do you attribute that to?

Some of that probably comes from theater—reading spoken word in old English. And I also like to approach writing the lyric as though I don’t speak English, so it’s based more on the sound of the word and joining words together that are phonetically pleasing.

The San Jose Mercury News interviews author Junot Diaz.

Q You were asked about influences, and among the first people on your list were cartoonists Jaime and Gilberto Hernandez, creators of the comic books "Love and Rockets."

A When I was coming up in the '80s, the representation of Latinos, even at the literary level, was incredibly un-diverse. Even amongst hard-core Latino writers I really admire, there wasn't the kind of writing about the sectors of the Latino community that I was familiar with.

"Love and Rockets" was not only a revolution in comics, it was a revolution in Latino letters. It was the first time that people were writing about the kind of Latinos that I grew up with where being a Latino was a given. What we really drew or what compelled us in our lives was who we were dating, the music we were listening to, the problems we were getting into.

Audiotuts lists "insanely useful" sites for guitarists.

RIP, author David Foster Wallace

The Independent predicts what the bestselling books of tomorrow will be.

Wired examines Nine Inch Nails' ambitious stage production.

For the band's current Lights in the Sky tour, Reznor has not only raised the bar for what's possible in an arena tour, but has also produced what could arguably be one of the most technologically ambitious rock productions ever conceived. Unlike most rock shows, the visuals for about 40 percent of the show (including "Only") aren't pre-rendered. There's no staging, no pantomiming by band members: It's all interactive, live and rendered on the fly.

At NPR's All Things Considered, Dick Meyer lists three "pitch-perfect works of political fiction."

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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