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October 8, 2009

Shorties (Lucinda Williams, Herta Muller, and more)

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams discusses her music career with Greg Kot at Turn It Up.

“There was no money in my family,” Williams says. “My dad was supportive of me creatively, but he had so much trouble as a poet making a living, he wanted me to have something to fall back on. And he was right, because I didn’t have a damn thing to fall back on. So I had to do this, because I didn’t have any other skills. I gave college a try, at the University of Arkansas, studying cultural anthropology of all things. In the summer of ‘72, I went to visit my mother in New Orleans and got offered this four-nights-a-week gig playing for tips in the middle of all the strip joints on Bourbon Street. I called my dad and said I wanted to stay there and play instead of going back to school. And to my surprise and eternal gratitude he said, ‘OK.’ That was the biggest turning point of my entire career. If I had come back to school, who knows what would’ve happened?”

Romanian-born German writer Herta Muller has won the Nobel Prize for literature.

Urban Outfitters is offering a free 25-track iTunes music sampler (to U.S. residents only), featuring tracks by The XX, Vivian Girls, Islands, and much more.

The Provincetown Banner profiles Elizabeth Strout, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her short story collection, Olive Kitteridge.

In today’s world of fast and big and lots of it, Strout’s stories are a world of small pleasures and dissatisfactions. In Crosby, people can be counted on; they stick around, they do the right thing. Except, of course, when they don’t, like in real life. They have dreams but they are not so big, and neither do they expect their sorrows to be as large as they sometimes are.

The San Jose Mercury News profiles singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco.

The Telegraph interviews Lorrie Moore about her new novel, A Gate at the Stairs.

The Georgia Strait profiles Passion Pit.

While they await Passion Pit's inevitable back-to-roots phase, fans can make do with the fivesome's charged-up debut album, Manners, which marries fluorescent machine-made melodies to Angelakos's wildly expressive falsetto. “Sleepyhead” is the band's signature song, its corkscrewing synth blasts and grainy vocal samples establishing an atmosphere of competing emotions; on the dance floor, the track is an ecstasy bomb, but heard through headphones, it seems designed to push you to tears.

NHPR's Word of Mouth and The Stranger interview Tao Lin about his new novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel.

Absolutely Kosher is clearing out its warehouse and offering great deals on the indie label's CDs (1 for $5, 3 for $10, 5 for $15, 8 for $20, 13 for $30, 26 for $50, or 78 for $350).

Cartoonist Emily Flake is covering Small Press Expo for Print.

The Village Voice goes behind the scenes at the Mountain Goats' Colbert Report appearance.

Goodreads interviews Nick Hornby about his new novel, Juliet, Naked.

Goodreads: Juliet, Naked is receiving a lot of comparisons to High Fidelity. However, your characters have turned a corner into the problems of middle age. How is this new book different?

Nick Hornby: There were a couple of things that came together. I wanted to write about the way our consumption of music has changed over the last ten years or so, because since High Fidelity was published, everything has changed. I wanted to write about an artist's relationship with his own work, and how that work means different things to different people. And I wanted to write about how everyone seems to have the feeling in middle age that they have wasted their life, no matter how much they have apparently achieved.

PopMatters reviews the book.

Jacket Whys is a blog devoted to children's and YA book covers.

True/Slant critiques Pitchfork's top 200 albums of the 2000s list.

Drowned in Sound interviews Randy Randall of No Age.

DiS: How do you feel about noise pop and lo-fi music at the moment? It seems to be everywhere you look.

RR: I don’t really read a lot of blogs or websites so a lot of it passes me by but the thing with No Age and the music we make is that it was never something we set out to so. The reason our early recordings sound the way they did is that we had to use equipment that was free because we had practically no money at all so we had a certain lo-fidelity for that reason. As time's gone on though we’ve got a little more money and have been able to get in a studio and enjoy both sides of it. I’m a big fan of the shoe-gaze element of the lo-fi music that’s around at the moment though, there’s something about the whole bedroom recordings that’s dreamy and I really like that. When people say 'lo-fi' they tend to mean you’re not trying. We like to make records sound as good as they possibly can and as noisy too.

WHYY's Fresh Air interviews Michael Chabon about his new essay collection, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son.

Read an excerpt from the book (and hear Chabon reading an excerpt as well).

CBS News also interviews Chabon about the book.

NPR is streaming last night's show by Gossip.

Cartoonist Peter Bagge is teaching a class on how to write graphic novels.

Yo La Tengo visits The Current studio for an interview and live performance.

Current contests at Largehearted Boy:

Win a copy of Nick Hornby's new novel, Juliet, Naked
Win one of two copies of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. White.

Follow me on Twitter for links that don't make the daily "Shorties" columns.

also at Largehearted Boy:

daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists