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December 30, 2009

Shorties (Zadie Smith, Patti Smith, and more)

Slate reviews Zadie Smith's essay collection, Changing My Mind.

At first glance, Smith's collection looks like a bizarre menagerie: A dispatch from Liberia abuts a study of Obama's language; elsewhere are essays about Forster and Kafka and—stuck into the middle of the book like last week's mail—a little treasury of outdated movie reviews. Read as a whole, though, Changing My Mind falls together with a startling focus. The book isn't just a group of gently argued judgments and critical reinterpretations; it's an unsettled look at the systems of thought that make those judgments and interpretations possible. Despite Smith's novelistic intuition, her most resonant essays fixate on the question of how—with what mind-set and values—fiction should be read.

The Patti Smith documentary Dream of Life premieres tonight as part of PBS's series POV.

The Guardian recaps the year in books.

Tegan and Sara talk to the Georgia Strait about their latest album, Sainthood.

The Baltimore City Paper profiles Gary B. and the Notions.

"We've kind of become painfully not cool," Heath says. And, indeed, while their earnest brand of power pop has never been particularly fashionable in Baltimore, they're beginning to feel almost like an endangered species. These days, the guitar bands are mostly skewing artier or punkier, while the indie-pop acts are twiddling nobs on drum machines and keyboards. The Notions have found a few kindred spirits in Baltimore--such as SquAYAYks, the Oranges, and J-Roddy Walston and the Business--but, unsurprisingly, they have struck up more alliances with bands they've met touring out of town, such as Boston's Pretty and Nice and North Carolina's Hammer No More the Fingers.

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a couple remembers their friendship with author Raymond Carver.

KEXP lists the best music books of 2009.

Robin D.G. Kelley talks to NPR's All Things Considered about his new book, Thelonious Monk: The Life And Times Of An American Original.

MTV's Splash Page has the full lineup of free comics to be given away on Free Comic Book Day next year.

On sale at Amazon MP3: The Avett Brothers' 2007 14-track Emotionalism album for $1.99.

Heavyroc Music previews 10 artists to watch in 2010.

USA Today recaps the decade in the music business.

Portastatic has a new 7-track EP of covers, Make It Sound in Tune.

CASH Music is collecting donations to defray the medical bills of singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt's family.

The Guardian's books blog compares "literary naughtiness" of a hundred years ago to today.

My "best of 2009" lists:

favorite albums of 2009
favorite novels of 2009
favorite nonfiction of 2009
favorite short story collections of 2009
favorite graphic novels of 2009
favorite music of 2009 (at Urban Outfitters)

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

also at Largehearted Boy:

online "best of 2009" book lists
online "best of 2009" music lists
Online Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Book Lists
best of the decade (2000-2009) online music lists

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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