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March 23, 2012

Shorties (The Shins, Novels Written by Secretaries, and more)

Drowned in Sound interviews Shins frontman James Mercer about the band's new album, Port of Morrow.

All Things Considered recommends three novels written by secretaries at their day job.

The Guardian examines how indie labels changed the music industry.

Guardian readers recommend songs about procrastination.

Screen Junkies lists six Anne Rice film adaptations that prove why she is the queen of the damned.

PopMatters profiles innovative King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp.

io9 compares Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84 against his previous work.

The New Yorker profiles several of pop music's hottest songwriters.

John Backderf talks to USA Today about his new graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer.

"The important thing to remember is Dahmer — at least the Dahmer I write about — was not a criminal," Backderf explains. "He had done nothing wrong up until the moment he killed. Everybody starts somewhere, and until they actually do something that's monstrous, they're not really monsters by any definition."

Browbeat marks the 49th anniversary today of the Beatles' first album, Please Please Me.

A previously unpublished Kurt Vonnegut novella will be published as a Kindle Single.

On sale for $3.99 today at Amazon MP3: Hospitality's self-titled album.

Erin Morgenstern shares her thoughts on casting the film adaptation of her debut novel The Night Circus with Word & Film.

Yahoo Music lists essential punk albums.

Beyond the Margins interviews author Margot Livesey.

Your new book, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a kind of modern day re-working of Jane Eyre. But you've said, in many ways you've been writing this book since you were nine years old. Can you explain?

When I first read Jane Eyre, I was living on the grounds of the boys' boarding school where my father taught. It was way out in the Scottish countryside. I read Jane Eyre because it had a girl’s name on the cover and it turned out to be about someone around my own age, so that was very pleasing. Of course, I didn't understand lots of things in the book but that didn’t bother me. I identified passionately and probably skipped the things I didn’t understand.

Then, the year after I read the novel, I myself [like Jane], went to a very difficult boarding school; I was actually a day pupil at this school but being there increased my identification with Jane because of course she's at the horrible Lowood School. So it became a cherished book for me, a book I thought of as more real than events in my own life. I re-read it a couple of times after that, and taught it a couple of times, but the book club discussion I led at Newtonville Books was a pivotal occasion. I was in a room not with my students or colleagues but with a group of passionate readers, most of them women and without exception, I think, American who all identified passionately with Jane Eyre – or who loved the book about her anyway. And so it made me think more sharply about Bronte's achievement as having nothing to do with the external facts of autobiography and much more to do with the internal facts of autobiography.

Rolling Stone reports that My Bloody Valentine will release remastered editions of its albums, with bonus content.

R.J. Palacio talks to Morning Edition about her new YA novel, Wonder.

"Middle school is a tough time," says Jaramillo. "I don't know what it is about the middle school experience that turns kids into The Lord of the Flies, but it just does seem to be that way."

Read an excerpt from the book.

HTMLGIANT interviews Kirby Gann about his new novel Ghosting.

HTMLGIANT: When I was reading Ghosting, I thought: This is a writer who doesn't think we're beyond the idea that evil is loose and at work in the world. It's a feeling akin to the feeling one gets reading Donald Ray Pollock or Flannery O'Connor. It's also an idea that is in some ways at odds with the stock advice we're often given about character-driven fiction — that an acquaintance with evil is a diminishment in some way of the complicated things that motivate people. What say you?

GANN: Such imponderables are largely to blame for my writing fiction; I don't seem capable of thinking about such concepts in another way. I love the fun of your phrasing here, that "evil is loose and at work in the world"—it makes me think of the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, with the Supreme Being ordering his band of worker-dwarves to be careful with those charred bits of what he called "pure, concentrated evil!" But what Gilliam was playing with and what you seem to suggest is that evil is its own thing, its own category, and that we can be struck by it and transformed or be possessed by it and overtaken. To think about it in this way requires pointless efforts at theodicy—in the novel I tried to lampoon that urge a bit with the character of Brother Ponder and his prosperity gospel (a prosperity he seems capable of managing only by taking part in, and even setting in motion, very bad things. Yet he honestly believes he's working toward a better world).

Win a copy of A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel: Volume One and a $100 Threadless gift certificate in this week's Largehearted Boy contest.

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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