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January 24, 2012

Shorties (Margaret Atwood, Neil Young, and more)

At the Guardian, Margaret Atwood explores the legacy of her novel The Handmaid's Tale.

Neil Young discusses the state of modern music with MTV.

"I'm finding that I have a little bit of trouble with the quality of the sound of music today," Young said. "I don't like it. It just makes me angry. Not the quality of the music, but we're in the 21st century and we have the worst sound that we've ever had. It's worse than a 78 [rpm record]. Where are our geniuses? What happened?" Young argued that MP3s feature only 5 percent of the data from an original master file, which he sees as a major problem.

The Globe and Mail profiles Sara Levine and her debut novel Treasure Island!!!.

"I wanted to see what would happen if I tried to fuse an essayistic, feminine consciousness to a book which is about physical problems," Levine says, adding it is "essayistic in the sense you could say Hamlet is, because it's about somebody who's paralyzed, just a mind in motion, but not able to take a big step."

Newsarama interviews cartoonist Jeffrey Brown about his new film, Save the Date.

Nrama: What was different about writing a screenplay vs. writing/illustrating a graphic novel or graphic short?

Brown: There's an immediate gratification that comes from the way I make comics - they pretty much appear shortly after conception, just as I planned, whereas film is much more labor intensive and involved to get from the idea stage to final product.

The biggest difference, obviously, is the collaboration - my comics are almost entirely me; maybe a little editorial input or proofreading, and obviously the physical production is other people.

With film, there's basically a hundred times the people involved, and so it's much harder to have a vision for a final product that's going to be achieved. I went into it with the mindset that what I was starting would become something else, and wouldn't just be "mine."

At Flavorwire, Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor shares his favorite graphic novels.

Rolling Stone excerpts from Taylor-Taylor's new graphic novel, One Model Nation.

Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn talks to Grantland about his solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes.

Morning Edition profiles the Swedish band First Aid Kit.

First Aid Kit is two sisters, ages 18 and 21, from Sweden. But their music sounds like a slice of Americana: acoustic guitar, autoharp and lots of vocal harmony.

NPR reviews and excerpts from Shalom Auslander's new novel Hope: A Tragedy.

The Washington Post also reviews the book.

Assuming you don't throw his book across the room in outrage, Auslander will keep you guffawing with his blend of gallows humor and stand-up-worthy riffs on health stores where you pay a premium for what you don't get (gluten, sodium, etc.), deathbeds (Sealy SwanSongs, Tempur-Pedic UltraPlotz with Advanced MortalCoil Technology) and meaningful last words ("Do not disturb any further"). Typical of his many clever twists is Kugel's sales pitch for his job with a residential composting company: "Your waste is a wonderful thing to mind."

You Are Listening To melds ambient tracks with radio scanners of cities worldwide.

Fresh Air interviews Cullen Murphy about his new book, God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World.

Luc Sante profiles Patti Smith in the New York Review of Books.

Jack Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt has won the John Newbery Medal for the best children's book of 2011.

Chris Raschka's A Ball for Daisy won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for best illustrated story.

The A.V. Club interviews Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi.

Worth reading: The New Inquiry's "Un(der)known Writers" series.

Stream a new song, Andrew Bird song, "Eyeoneye," from Break It Yourself (out March 6th).

The Telegraph delves into the mysteries of poetry editing.

The A.V. Club lists 14 albums that surprisingly went platinum.

Stream an audiobook chapter from singer-songwriter and author Alina Simone's essay collection, You Must Go and Win.

Amazon MP3 has 1,000 digital albums on sale for $5.

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

also at Largehearted Boy:

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

List of Online "Best Books of 2011" Lists
List of Online Year-End 2011 Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics & graphic novels)
daily mp3 downloads
Largehearted Word (the week's best 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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