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February 22, 2010

Shorties (Hilary Mantel, Joanna Newsom, and more)

Hilary Mantel shares her rules for writing with the Guardian.


The Boston Globe reviews Joanna Newsom's new album, Have One on Me (out tomorrow).

Much like a riveting movie keeps you in your seat, you’ll want to pay close attention to Joanna Newsom’s astonishing new album for fear of missing too much of the plot. Well, “plot’’ is an awfully strong word when it comes to Newsom, the elfin indie-folk enigma whose quixotic songs often favor the power of abstraction over obvious storytelling.

The New York Times also reviews the 3-CD album.

The spaciousness of the songs in “Have One on Me” makes her music differently three dimensional. Ms. Newsom has grown into her voice, which is now many voices. She can still be witchy or childlike, but she can also be sly or flirtatious and can lean toward madrigal, country twang or torch song. The larger-scale arrangements loom up and disappear like mirages.


The New Yorker features a new short story by Said Sayrafiezadeh.


On his Guardian blog, Jonathan Jones defends the need for cultural critics.

Real criticism is not about distinguishing good from bad; it is about distinguishing good from great. There's plenty of terrible art around, but it usually finds its level in the end. The curse of our time, in the arts, is mediocrity and ordinariness: the quite good film that gets an Oscar, the OK artist who becomes a megastar. Truly remarkable art is rare and to see it when it comes, to fight for it, to hold it up as an example for the rest – that is the critic's true task.


Author Margaret Atwood talks to the Buffalo News about her youth.


The Millions offers a guide to fiction online.


The San Francisco Chronicle interviews Yoko Ono about her latest album, Between My Head and the Sky.

Q: I thought you invented noise pop.

A: I know. Are they going to give me credit for it? It all happened when my mom put me in early music education. I learned chords and melodies there. This is the 1930s. Can you believe it? In Tokyo one of the homework assignments was to listen to all the noise of the day and transpose that into music notes. So sounds and notes were something I was familiar with since I was 4 or 5 years old.


The UWM Post wonders if the Lollapalooza music festival has jumped the shark.


The Faster Times ponders the importance of band names.


Pitchfork examines the cassette tape renaissance.


The Sacramento Bee previews spring's noteworthy book releases.


Strand Magazine has released its nominees for its 2009 Strand Critics Awards, including Largehearted Boy Book Notes contributors Laura Lippman, Josh Bazell, Jedediah Berry, and Robert Goolrick.


The New Republic reviews Terry Castle's new essay collection, The Professor and Other Writings.

Castle’s incisive sociological eye here for status hierarchy and her own place on the bottom rung testifies to her witty, merciless accuracy—one of the pleasures of The Professor and Other Writings, her irresistible new collection of personal essays. In it no one is left unbesmirched, including Sontag, whom she also reveres, for Castle always insists on the untidy and uncensored response. Her radical candor makes it hard to enlist her under any ideological or political banner, and this recalcitrance alone gives her book an invaluable civic function.

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


NPR's Weekend Edition interviews singer-songwriter Charlotte Gainsbourg about her new album, IRM.

In addition to producing IRM, Beck co-wrote Gainsbourg's lyrics. Gainsbourg says she was impressed by Beck's ability to write a narrative that she could relate to.

"I have the impression that he was able to see through me," she says. "The album is very personal. It's very intimate."


Rap Genius is an interactive website that explains rap lyrics.


NPR's All Things Considered interviews two members of Mumford and Sons about the band's brand of folk music.


This week Five ChaptersFive Chapters is serializing a new short story by AL Kennedy.


The McGill Tribune examines the live concert-taping subculture.


Win Seth Grahame-Smith's new novel, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, in this week's Largehearted Boy contest.


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


also at Largehearted Boy:

Atomic Books Comics Preview (highlights of the week's comics & graphic novel releases)
daily mp3 downloads
Largehearted Word (highlights of the week's book releases)
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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