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October 17, 2009

Shorties (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; Riot Grrrls; and more)

The Los Angeles Times considers Kurt Vonnegut's literary legacy with the recent paperback releases of Slaughterhouse-Five, Mother Night, Galapagos, and other Vonnegut works.

Vonnegut not only resides in the pantheon -- he's helped create a whole other one. He was a much more literary writer than many care to give him credit for, and sadder too. He came from a family of suicides and himself danced around the idea of self-slaughter. In his work we laugh at all the capering while we sense the darkness that lies beyond it.

The New York Times reviews Michael Chabon's new essay collection, Manhood for Amateurs.

Ultimately, what makes this collection so melancholically pleasurable is not the modern-dad stuff but Chabon’s ready and vivid access to his own childhood. A chance radio encounter with the opening riff of Toto’s 1978 hit “Hold the Line,” he tells us, instantly summons “the radiant shins of a girl named Jennifer Dagenais.” He’s in lament mode again — will today’s kids, cocooned in the virtual listening booths of their iPods, be able to make such song-scene associations? — but his analysis is wondrous, wise and beautiful. “It’s simply the magic of an accidental conjunction,” he writes, “a flitting moment and the resin drop of a pop song transformed by luck and alchemy into amber.”

The New York Times profiles the family life of Chabon and his wife, author Ayelet Waldman. interviews Jason Rekulak, creative director of Quirk Books, publisher of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

What has the critical reception been? Any flak from the old-school reviewers?

We have actually had many wonderful reviews, and most of the slightly less positive reviews have been from horror reviewers who felt there was a bit too much Jane Austen in there. But we have had all kinds of positive feedback, we’ve had teachers, librarians and other people coming up to us and saying that this has been the only way to get 16-year-old boys to read Pride and Prejudice.

Pop & Hiss reviews The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack track by track.

Buy the digital album at Amazon MP3 for only $4.99.

The Arizona Republic lists the top 10 U2 albums.

The Guardian lists 10 of the best green stories in literature.

Classic British album covers by the Clash, Blur, and other artists will be featured on UK stamps.

Junot Diaz explains to O, The Oprah Magazine about why he became a writer.

Newsday reviews Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records.

The Chicago Tribune reviews one of the year's most lauded graphic novels, David Small's memoir Stitches.

"What's remarkable about "Stitches," named a finalist this week for a National Book Award, is how Small admits there is no way past certain pains. The graphic novel memoir has always trafficked in what Small offers: He gives his mother's silences the intensity of a giant 1950s cockroach considering its prey. His father's radiation lab (a probable cause of his cancer) recalls the cold, lunar offices of cheap afternoon sci-fi."

Read Small's Largehearted Boy Book Notes music playlist for the book.

The Hook interviews Mt. Eerie frontman Phil Elverum.

The Hook: Another recent craze is electronica, mash-up dance music. Why are you still doing “lo-fi”?

PE: I heard the term “lo-fi” for the first time when it was applied to me— it’s not that I set out to make a lo-fi record, I just try and make the things I would want to listen to. I’d like to make another really loud album, much louder than Wind’s Poem.

The Cleveland Scene reviews Rick Geary's graphic novel, Trotsky (a book I highly recommend).

Kyp Malone's Rain Machine visits The Current studio for an interview and live performance.

NPR reviews R. Crumb's new graphic novel, The Book of Genesis.

It's a cartoonist's equivalent of the Sistine Chapel, and it's awesome. Crumb has done a real artist's turn here — he's challenged himself and defied all expectation.

nyctaper interviews Darby Cicci of The Antlers.

The New Yorker's Book Bench blog is holding a "Critterati" contest, dress up your pet as a literary character to enter.

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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