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July 13, 2011

Shorties (Colson Whitehead, The White Stripes, and more)

Harper's interviews Colson Whitehead about his new novel Zone One.

1. The premise of Zone One is that a plague has struck the world, forming legions of “skels” — zombies, essentially, though you never use the word. This would seem to be a substantial departure from the introspective and personal terrain you covered in your previous novel, Sag Harbor, which focused on a black teenager living in the Hamptons during the 1980s. What was the appeal of a zombie plague as a literary subject?

I try to have each book be an antidote to the one before. The expansive stage, diverse cast, and loose structure of John Henry Days was a refreshing change from the linear, hermetic narrative of The Intuitionist; the intimacy of the voice in Sag Harbor was a pleasant diversion from the detached, morose narrator of Apex Hides the Hurt. The terror of figuring out a new genre, of telling a new story, is what makes the job exciting, keeps me from getting bored, and I assume it keeps whoever follows my work from getting bored as well. Until I got to college, I only read horror and science fiction; tales of the fantastic made me love books and want to be a writer. The Intuitionist was my first stab at trying to repurpose a known genre — the detective novel — for my own purposes. It was only a matter of time before I tried my hand at something with monsters and ray guns.

Cover Me streams two early cover songs by the White Stripes.

The Millions profiles author Megan Abbott.

PopMatters lists five songs about wizards, witches, and other spellcasters.

Margaret Drabble talks to the Telegraph about short story writing and the feud with her sister AS Byatt.

NME lists the latest odds for Britain's Mercury Music Prize.

Writerhead interviews Joe Wallace about his novel Diamond Ruby.

Salt Lake City Weekly profiles Explosions in the Sky.

What they've built is a band with a sound that defies easy genre labels, with a rabid following that is just as diverse, ranging from math-rock geeks to indie-rock snobs to psych-rock aficionados. They're revered in hipster circles; indie filmmaker Gregg Araki made one of his characters in his recent apocalyptic sex-and-drugs romp Kaboom an obsessive Explosions in the Sky fan. But most people have probably only heard them without knowing they were listening to Explosions in the Sky, via the soundtrack they composed for the Friday Night Lights feature film and the TV series of the same name that followed.

The Magazine of Yoga interviews author Rikki Ducornet as part of its wonderful On the Lit Mat series.

The Huffington Post interviews Amanda Palmer about the David Lynch Foundation Music's "Download for Good" program.

Ishmael's Dog interviews Kate Christensen about her new novel, The Astral.

PH: To me, Harry Quirk represents New York bohemianism before it became irrevocably self-conscious. What about his aspirations and struggles moved you to portray this man so carefully, so inventively?

KC: There's a certain kind of New Yorker I don't see written about much -- the artist who keeps making art without any reward of money or fame -- the artist who reaches middle age in a state of scruffy, striving dedication. Successful artists of any stripe interest me far less than struggling ones. I know so many people -- painters, photographers, poets, novelists, musicians -- who are still in that state, middle-aged, living hand to mouth, no insurance, no savings account, still paying rent, trying to survive, but not giving up -- their lives have been shaped around their art. It's a quiet heroism. I'm inspired and moved by artists who do it because they have to -- because it's who they are -- and for no other reason. I admire their integrity, authenticity, and deep dedication. They are an unsung and crucial part of the city's character.

A new Hype Machine project, Fast Forward, lets you read music blogs while listening to the featured mp3s.

At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Elise Blackwell examines film portrayals of creative writing professors.

The Twin Cities Daily Planet profiles Minneapolis's innovative book club, Books & Bars.

Underwire talks to music bloggers who have started their own record labels.

PopSugar lists the best NYC bookstores.

Aquarium Drunkard interviews former baseball star Dale Murphy about music blogging.

Physics Central reviews the graphic novel biography Feynman.

Flavorwire lists 10 musicians and the actors who were born to play them.

Fresh Air interviews Paul Farmer about his new book, Haiti After the Earthquake.

On sale for $3.99 at Amazon MP3: Raphael Saadiq's Stone Rollin' album.

At NPR, author Mat Johnson recommends three superhero sagas, including Austin Grossman's brilliant novel Soon I Will Become Invincible.

Vol. 1 Brooklyn interviews Bryan Waterman about his new 33 1/3 book on Television's Marquee Moon.

Monkey See lists "Back-To-School Reads: 13 Big Books To Read While The Leaves Fall."

Follow me on Twitter and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" columns.

also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (news and links from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (highlights of the week's new comics & graphic novels)
daily mp3 downloads
Largehearted Word (highlights of the week's new books)
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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