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April 14, 2012

Shorties (Yiyun Li, Magnetic Fields, and more)

The Guardian profiles author Yiyun Li.

Li is not yet eligible for US citizenship, having had her green card application turned down twice before it was finally granted on grounds of her "exceptional" talent, but admits she is postponing the decision whether to become an American. So far her writing about her adopted country has not achieved the evenness or depth of her stories about China, though her descriptions of Chinese people in America powerfully evoke their sense of foreignness and disorientation. More Americans have started to appear in her fiction, as her childhood recedes and she absorbs herself in the life of her new country. Her next book, which she has been working on before our meeting, is a "very contemporary" novel about people negotiating a path between the two cultures.


Crib Notes interviews Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields about the documentary Strange Powers.

How does it work as a representation of you and the band, and of what you do?

Oh, well, not at all. [Laughs] But I don't think it's intended to be an accurate work. It took about 10 years to make, and much of what I was doing was making musicals, and that's not even mentioned. I did four musicals in a 10-year span, but you wouldn't know it from watching the film. Just because to film that you'd have to pay the actors [in the musicals] royalties. But they could have mentioned it.

Also the plot of the movie seems to be, "Claudia gets upset that Stephin moves to L.A." — none of which is actually true. Claudia may have been upset for a few hours; and I didn't move to L.A., I just moved my recording studio to L.A. and I kept an apartment in New York. But the movie didn't mention that. I go back and forth all the time, and they screw with the chronology so that it seems like I move to L.A. at the end of the movie, but what you see happening onscreen I'd already moved things to L.A.

They made up a narrative, as many documentaries do. But of course, it doesn't matter. The point was just to have some conversations on the screen. It's not like it was supposed to be an exposé.


Anne Tyler talks to the Guardian about her writing career and new novel, The Beginner's Goodbye.


The Montreal Gazette profiles author Joyce Carol Oates.

The first member of her family to graduate from high school, she won scholarships to university and, later, a prestigious fiction contest. She met Raymond Smith in 1962 at graduate school, and married him after a brief courtship. They settled for several years in Detroit, where the city's violent racial upheavals of the day became her literary bedrock. "Detroit, my 'great' subject," she writes on her website, "made me the person I am, consequently the writer I am - for better of worse."


Ms. Blog profiles singer-songwriter Laura Nyro.


TIME points out Audible.com's new audiobook publishing program.

As you may have imagined, Audible is not just doing this out of the good of its heart. CEO Donald Katz tells the Guardian, "The fact is people buy a Neil Gaiman, not a HarperCollins or a Simon & Schuster, so it is for us to connect with the writers and hopefully wake them up to what they can do. If it works it can become a channel of membership and sales."


At All Things Considered, author Adam Wilson recommends three books for spring reading.


Sound of the City lists six reasons "your phone is probably ruining your concert experience (and everyone else's)."


Weekend Edition interviews Ross Douthat about his new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.


All Things Considered profiles Kraftwerk as the band starts its eight night residency at the Musieum of Modern Art.

This week, in one of the country's major museums, you can, through 3-D glasses, see what Kraftwerk really looks like today: four erudite Germans standing behind synthesizers, playing music from the past that still sounds like the future.


Philip Kerr talks to Weekend Edition about his new novel, Prague Fatale.


Win The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set, The Hunger Games soundtrack, 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)

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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