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October 4, 2008

Shorties (Sarah Vowell, Fleet Foxes, and more)

The Wall Street Journal interviews Sarah Vowell about her new book, The Wordy Shipmates.

WSJ: You describe the subjects of "The Wordy Shipmates" as "the dreary religious fanatics who founded New England nearly 400 years ago." That's not exactly selling your topic.

Ms. Vowell: Really? Who doesn't love a good dreary religious fanatic? I hope I make a case for them as more interesting than that, but there's something about dreary people that's also a crackup. They could be so nitpicky. When Roger Williams and John Cotton get into a pamphlet fight, it's just two people who agree about almost everything bickering until one of them finally dies. It was very high school. I found their human capacity for pettiness and jealousy extremely entertaining.

The Boston Herald profiles Fleet Foxes.

Pecknold says neither his voice nor his band’s sound are yet where he wants them to be; he’s unhappy with a lot of his vocal takes on the record. But the group is already capable of conjuring hypnotic and ethereal Americana: Think Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and My Morning Jacket on shuffle after an Ambien and acid cocktail.

Drowned in Sound interviews Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew.

The Vulture lists the best "one crazy night movies" of all time.

The Boston Globe offers an illustrated map to locations in the city featured in David Foster Wallace's novel, Infinite Jest.

Mario Vargas Llosa talks writing with the Guardian.

"When I write, I write with freedom but I need a solid base," he explains.

It's a requirement that will see the 72-year-old writer travel to Congo later this year as part of the research for his next novel. The trip will allow him to "get to know the scenery," he explains, "to smell it, to feel it", but above all will give him a "bedrock of security that allows me to invent and to write. I'm not looking for historical precision but for something to shake me out of my insecurity."

NPR is streaming a recent performance by Over the Rhine.

The Scotsman profiles the multi-faceted actor Michael Cera.

Yet Cera seems less like a hot new Hollywood property than a young boho guy exploring his options. He recently got his own apartment in Los Angeles after years in hotels, and he has a short story coming out in McSweeney's, Dave Eggers's literary journal. He talks with something resembling excitement about the band Bishop Allen and the cult comedy series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (though unlike most fans, he has appeared on it). He is finishing the music for Paper Hearts, a partly fictional, partly documentary film about the meaning of love that was written by, and stars, Cera's girlfriend, Charlyne Yi, a comedian who has been compared to Andy Kaufman but is best known as the stoner chick on the couch in Knocked Up.

The Los Angeles Times profiles Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.

She's angry about mistreatment of animals, the economy and the paving over of small-town America. That last subject inspired the title of the Pretenders' first album in six years, "Break Up the Concrete," which uses a throbbing Bo Diddley beat under Hynde's message advocating the destruction of the substance that's encasing ever more of the planet.

Alina Simone talks to Spinner about her Yanka Dyagileva covers album, Everyone Is Crying Out to Me, Beware.

There's a forlorn quality to this music complemented by Simone's expressive vocals -- the album's bleak tone mirrored Dyagileva's own life. "She was born into a poor family," explains Simone. "They lived in very, very modest conditions, to say the least, in Siberia. She died literally months before the Soviet Union collapsed. It was just a time where things were very unstable and uncertain."

In the New York Times, Steven Millhauser examines the "ambition of the short story."

NPR's Day to Day talks to the authors who wrote the young adult novel, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

While walking around the reservoir in Central Park, Cohn got an idea for a book. It would focus on two teenage kids from New Jersey who don't drink or do drugs — and would try to capture the sort of constant banter between Nick and Nora Charles that characterized the 1930s Thin Man series. One problem — though Cohn had already written a few young adult novels, she felt that she needed a male author to properly capture the boy's voice.

Minnesota Public Radio's The Current features Rachael Yamagata with an interview and in-studio performance.

also at Largehearted Boy:

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