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September 7, 2009

Shorties (Taken By Trees, Paul Theroux, and more)

Paste's artist of the week is Taken By Trees.

Victoria Bergsman, the former lead singer of The Concretes, is perhaps most widely known for her vocal contribution to Peter Bjorn and John's ubiquitous “Young Folks.” On East of Eden, the new album of her solo project Taken By Trees (out Sept. 8 via Rough Trade), she covers some other indie darlings, reworking Animal Collective's “My Girls” as “My Boys.” But in her version, lyrics like “I only want a proper house” take on new weight—Bergsman recorded the whole album in Pakistan, an overcrowded nation saddled with abject poverty.


The New Yorker features a new short story by Paul Theroux, "The Lower River."


The Telegraph reports that a rare yellow spider has been named after David Bowie.


The Guardian's books blog finds Philip Roth's novel Portnoy's Complaint still shocking 40 years after its publication.

So how does it stand up in 2009 – now that explicit novels such as Charlotte Roche's Wetlands and Chuck Palahniuk's Snuff are as likely to provoke boredom as outrage? Does it retain its power? I'd argue that it does – for two reasons. First, the book shows Roth striking the wellspring that has flowed through his writing ever since: the connection between sex and mortality. As Portnoy explains in a rare moment of non-obscenity, his flaming libido represents "the desire continually burning within for the new, the wild, the unthought-of and, if you can imagine such a thing, the undreamt-of". As with Roth's recent novels, in which elderly protagonists rage against their dwindling virility (David Kepesh in The Dying Animal; Nathan Zuckerman in Exit Ghost), Portnoy's Complaint asserts that to be sexual is to be fully alive – while to have that denied is a form of living death.


Pedestrian.tv interviews Nathan Williams of Wavves.


The Arizona Republic lists six albums that are the "pillars of Southern rock."


The Comics Reporter offers a reading guide for David Mazzuchelli's graphic novel, Asterios Polyp.


The Boston Globe reviews the graphic novel adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

As evidenced by Tim Hamilton’s authorized graphic novel, time has not dulled its tart, terrifying resonance. Vibrant and vital, Hamilton’s take on “Fahrenheit 451’’ is far more than an illustrated version of Bradbury’s 1953 classic. While its text belongs to Bradbury, Hamilton, a founding member of the online comics collaborative www.activatecomix.com, saturates the story with his own evocative energy and vision. He doesn’t use all of Bradbury’s words, instead allowing the story’s inherent visual propulsion to add even more depth and texture to an already-indelible tale.


New York Magazine profiles author Jonathan Ames.

In Ames’s novels and essays on life in New York, most of which revolve around self-loathing, loneliness, sexual misadventure, and bodily dysfunction (P.S. they’re comedies), he’s cultivated a style that you might describe, oxymoronically, as uproariously melancholic.


KCRW launches a new online music channel, Eclectic 24, this morning.


The Guardian profiles author Douglas Coupland.


The New Yorker features a new short story, "Distant Relations," Orham Pamuk.


The Line of Best Fit is celebrating Bella Union Records Week (the label is celebrating its 12th birthday).


The Times Online shares some previously unpublished interviews with John Lennon.


Add to Wikipedia's list of band name etymologies.


Public Image Ltd has reunited for a series of December UK dates to mark the 30th anniversary of the band's Metal Box album.


Kurt Vonnegut explains drama.


The Los Angeles Times examines the current trend of memoirs based on gimmicks.


An interesting literary event: actress Sarah Louise Parker and singer-songwriter Ryan Adams will discuss fiction and poetry on September 25th at the New York Public Library.


Read an excerpt from Alan DeNiro's forthcoming novel, Total Oblivion, More or Less.


Follow me on Twitter for links that don't make the daily "Shorties" columns.


also at Largehearted Boy:

daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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