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February 1, 2012

Shorties (Sharon Van Etten, The Best Graphic Novels for Black History Month, and more)

The Line of Best Fit and The L Magazine interview singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten.

The Root recommends 25 graphic novels for Black History Month.

Ben Marcus talks to The Jewish Week about his new novel, The Flame Alphabet.

Anyway, he never did call his own fiction experimental, he said, and has distanced himself from that label before. “I don’t sit down and say, OK, let’s aim for this point on the realism-experimental continuum. I don’t think there’s any writer who works like that. In my fiction, I just try to write what’s interesting to me.”

Los Campesinos! visits The Current studio for a live performance and interview.

Keshni Kashyap talks to Public Spectacle about her graphic novel, Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary.

And for Indian-Americans who grew up in Southern California, reading Tina's Mouth is like revisiting the teen years in a way that is so much more satisfying than reruns of My So-Called Life, Daria or Saved by the Bell. Tina nails the typical adolescent attitude on Southern California's Little India: "It's really not some colorful place like white people would like it to be, but a series of shops and restaurants just off the freeway. It's the most boring, ugly place on earth. I try to avoid going at all costs."

The Quietus wonders why we listen to so much bleak music.

Historically, pockets of doomy and gloomy music have flourished during traumatic times.

The Millions offers a brief history of literary blurbs.

Suvudu interviews Daniel O'Malley about his new novel, The Rook.

SS: Time Magazine’s book critic Lev Grossman loved THE ROOK, blurbing, "Utterly convincing and engrossing—totally thought-through and frequently hilarious. The writing is confident and fully fledged. Even this aging, jaded, attention-deficit-disordered critic was blown away." Based upon early reader reviews, they loved THE ROOK too. As a new writer, what is it like to have early praise like this? Does it help or hinder your future writing?

DO: Well, when it's someone like Lev Grossman, or Katherine Neville, or Jaye Wells – all of them authors whose works have brought me so much pleasure and whom I regard so highly — then you don't think of the greater implications. I just tended to wander around in a haze of delight, looking with happily glazed eyes at my workmates in the office (much to their wary confusion). And then, when readers say that they've enjoyed it, that’s marvelous to hear, but different people always say they enjoyed different things. There's no one thing or scene or line that I can look at sagely and say, 'Ah yes, I must make certain to do that sort of thing again.' So it’s all just exploring randomly, putting in the sort of things that I like, and staring at the screen, completely uncertain as to whether the page I just wrote is any good at all. But, you know, I think that, for all writers, approval and delight from all readers, professional and real, are far more encouraging than the alternative.

Drowned in Sound interviews singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell.

Over the course of our hour-long conversation Mitchell speaks with such eloquence and zeal about her craft and about language and music in general (from old Catalan folk songs she discovered on compilations to the "wild, bizarre" beauty of traditional British and Irish storytelling), and sets out such firm, refreshingly optimistic ideals about the nature of releasing her music independently that it is difficult not to get a little swept up in her enthusiasm. "You just keep going, and see where each one leads," she states regarding getting her albums out there. With Young Man in America, a literate, sweeping statement of intent and indictment of modern ills both personal and political, you have to hope it leads towards the kind of wider success she so richly deserves.

At the Guardian, author Alex Preston lists the top 10 literary believers.

All Things Considered profiles the musical duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Onstage in Mexico City with just two guitars, Rodrigo y Gabriela produce intricate arrangements that pull from a wide range of musical styles. Gabriela Quintero provides what can at times be furious rhythms banged out on the strings and body of her guitar. Rodrigo Sanchez's fingers fly up and down the frets, plucking out riffs and melodies.

Monkey See calls for an end to e-book vs. print books arguments.

Win Sara Levine's debut novel Treasure Island!!! and a $100 Threadless gift certificate in this week's Largehearted Boy contest.

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

Follow me on Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, 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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