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March 18, 2012

Shorties (Bob Dylan, Jhumpa Lahiri, and more)

The Guardian looks back on Bob Dylan's self-album, released 50 years ago tomorrow.

The immediately astonishing impact of the album, by any measure, is the contrast between the image of the unsmiling but fresh-faced lad in his cap and the depth of feeling and range in the singing between love, rage, sorrow and a fixation with death. The core of the album is Fixin' To Die, sung as though he were pleading for the life he is about to lose, such is Dylan's understanding of the intentions of its author, the great Delta blues master Booker T Washington – aka "Bukka" – White.

Jhumpa Lahiri discusses writing in the New York Times.

Constructing a sentence is the equivalent of taking a Polaroid snapshot: pressing the button, and watching something emerge. To write one is to document and to develop at the same time. Not all sentences end up in novels or stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but. Sentences are the bricks as well as the mortar, the motor as well as the fuel. They are the cells, the individual stitches. Their nature is at once solitary and social. Sentences establish tone, and set the pace. One in front of the other marks the way.

The Victoria Times Colonist profiles the band Plants and Animals. interviews the band's frontman Warren Spicer about their new album, The End of That.

At Guernica, Amitava Kumar interviews author Michael Ondaatje.

Amitava Kumar: Your saying that the sort of aesthetic principle you follow in your narrative is of offering your reader about two-thirds—it’s almost mathematical—reminds me of something that happens in the book of interviews that you did with Walter Murch [The Conversations].You describe watching a film where the cuts between different scenes are complete so that each scene is whole in itself, and you found it dissatisfying, while in the case of Walter Murch, because he held back about one-fifth of the narrative, you found the story so much more compelling. Have I got that right? What happens there?

Michael Ondaatje: Well, for instance in one of the scenes in his editing of The English Patient was a scene between Caravaggio and Hana, and though the scene was written with a beginning, a middle and an end, he held back that last one-fifth, so you sort of heard the last part of the dialogue in the next scene…used as a voice-over. It removed that element of a black-out at the end of every scene, that kind of stop-start quality, that makes it exhausting to the reader or the viewer. There always should be something hanging unfinished before a scene ends so that there’s a reason for going to the next scene. I think I learned a lot from Murch in terms of how the scenes shouldn’t be too fulfilled.

The Atlantic Cities breaks down SXSW Music 2012's participating bands by city.

The Buffalo News explores the controversy surrounding poetry press BlazeVOX and some of its authors' bans from NEA’s Creative Writing Fellowships.

Today, most poets with small press publications contribute in some way to the publication process. Gatza’s mistake was to ask for the money up-front and to give poets a discount on copies of their own books rather than adhere to a common and often unspoken understanding that writers will contribute to their own publications on the back end by buying copies of their own books.

Twitter offers tips for musicians and artists.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reviews one of the year's strongest debut novels, Kris D'Agostino's The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac.

In other words, Calvin is not the slacker hero at the end of a Judd Apatow movie, the screwup who puts on a charmingly ill-fitting tie and steps over the shards of a broken bong into the slender arms of an impossibly attractive blonde. D'Agostino is more interested in extending the stasis that begins an Apatow movie over the course of an entire novel.

All Things Considered interviews James Mercer about the Shins' new album Port of Morrow (out Tuesday).

The Independent reviews the album.

The Los Angeles Review of Books examines the difficulty in getting mainstream media outlets to review self-published books. (via)

The New York Times examines how people read in the digital age.

Amazon MP3 has 100 digital albums on sale for $5.

Follow me on Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, 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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