You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘literature’ tag.

Compiled by Ryan

The links:

-Jack White hinted to Vanity Fair that a White Stripe reunion could be in the works.

-White also recently produced these beautiful covers by Laura Marling for Third Man’s Blue Series.

-Colin Meloy gave Spin an intimate look at the new Decemberists record, The King Is Dead.

Paste counts down the top concept albums of the century, but somehow forgets Separation Sunday.

Details are starting to emerge about Moon Rise Kingdom, the next film from director Wes Anderson.

Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas has yet another television deal in place, this time with Fox.

Danny Pudi (Community) sat down with the AV Club to talk referential comedy.

Jonathan Safran Foer talks about his ambitious new book with Vanity Fair.

Compiled by Ryan

The links:

-After dissing the show earlier this year, Kanye West is scheduled to appear on next week’s SNL.

-M.I.A. released her latest video, and once again it is an internet-fueled collage.

A Feist documentary that chronicles the making of The Reminder is being unveiled next week.

-The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn has released a Minnesota Twins-centric track, which you can stream on the MPR website.

An overhauled Carson Daly Show will focus entirely on music.

David Sedaris answers a few questions for USA Today.

Best hot-air balloon ever.

Compiled by Ryan

The links:

The new M.I.A. album will be called /\/\/\Y/\, probably pronounced “Maya,” and is now coming out July 13.

-NPR is all over the album streams these days: this week, it’s The Black Keys.

-It’s hard to imagine that anyone has more movie deals lined up right now than Aziz Ansari, who’s teaming up with Danny McBride for a new project.

-Now that the series finale approaches, it’s time for the superlatives and hyperbole about Lost to begin.

Law & Order has been canceled, though its spin-offs will remain on air.

A David Sedaris story is being adapted into a film; let’s hope they consult the witty scribe on the script.

New music spotlight:

Sleigh Bells Treats

Sleigh Bells have been gaining fans online since demos leaked following their breakout performances at CMJ last fall.  Their full-length is finally on its way, and it delivers on the promise of those demos: machine-gun beats, heavy guitar distortion, and sweet pop vocals.  It’s like The Dirty Projectors remixed by M.I.A., who runs the label (N.E.E.T.) that’s putting this album out.  Take a first listen here, or stream the whole thing on NPR:

Sleigh Bells – “Crown on the Ground,” from Treats, out June 1 on N.E.E.T./Mom & Pop

By Anna

“The TV said: ‘And other trends that could dramatically impact your portfolio … If our complaints have a focal point, it would have to be the TV set, where the outer torment lurks, causing fears and secret desires.” –Don Delillo’s White Noise

For decades authors have introduced the television as a character in novels, films, and most recently television itself. In 1985, Don Delillo interjected the television’s voice in the lives of his characters in White Noise, overtly expressing the lifelessness of his characters because of over saturation in media. The characters critiqued the constant voice of the TV, but could do nothing about it. Such was the ritual of their lives and turning the television off didn’t seem to be a choice.

My roommates and I frequently reference Patti from Millionaire Matchmaker or talk about the Kardashian sisters as if we knew them. We become so accustomed to the actors and storylines that if one of us were to see Patti on the streets of LA we’d probably say hello like we know her.

In 1971, Stanley Kubrick severely critiqued media conditioning in his film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. Alex, the protagonist, finds pleasure in Beethoven, rape and violence; therefore, only distasteful media images combined with chemicals can “fix” Alex’s love of violence. What are we to do with violence in the media?

Here, I turn to HBO’s The Sopranos. If any show cloaks itself in sex, drugs, and violence it’s The Sopranos because a show about the mob without sex, drugs, and violence hardly does the mob justice. The plot follows Anthony (Tony) Soprano and his mob life. Nearly every episode references some movie or television show, and the TV is constantly on or focused on, particularly in Tony’s bedroom in which the TV sits on a white Grecian pillar. The television motif continues: Tony’s uncle, under house arrest, gets hooked on a soap opera, Tony frequently retells plot lines from television shows to his therapist, and Tony’s wife watches multiple old films usually alone.

Breaking down the television motif has not been easy because there may not be one answer to its place in The Sopranos, but it’s obvious the creators have a point to make.

  1. What viewers know from television still isn’t real life. Even mobsters have therapists because mobsters have bitter multiple personality mothers.
  2. Television is like a god in our culture, and it’s time to critique TV with itself.
  3. People are constantly wary of what TV violence will do to their children. It’s not the violence from TV the parents should be worried about, but it’s what their kids do with that knowledge and how parents address violence and television that really matters.

These are all off the cuff ideas about the television motif and I have found little answers via a quick Google search as to why The Sopranos frequently references TV, but I it’s a smart show by not ignoring TV. After all, we could use a few more Delillo’s in the world stirring the melting pot of media.

By Sonja

At least those that I read and were written at an accessible (read: high school) reading level

His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman, last book published 2000,

It’s a trilogy, so I don’t count it as a series. Pullman, like most good sci-fi writers, pushes the boundaries. Instead of talking about space travel though, he talks about the end of religion and how we express our emotions and how much a family can hurt you. I’m surprised the fans of the Left Behind Series didn’t put more energy into banning this book.

Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins, 2001

I wish I would have read poetry like this when it came out my junior year in high school; maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to enjoy verse. His poems are written for older readers who get his views of death and solitude, but they’re still so read-able, that it makes enjoying a whole book of poetry plausible in a decade where far more people are writing poetry than reading poetry. He deserves the salary that Uncle Sam paid him for a year.

Breathing Underwater, Alex Flinn, 2002

When I first read this book, I thought it was a dated, feminized male character who becomes a case study for abusive relationships. Now I see those as good things. Flinn’s time in the justice system of Dade Co, Florida give this novel the backbone of authenticity to build into a clear snapshot of how slippery fairness and equality between an abused boy and an insecure girl can be. Now the fact that Nick pages Catlin simply tells of how timeless verbal abuse is, and how many ways it can be communicated.

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, 2003

Remember that song that came out right after September 11th from Allen Jackson and the chorus goes, “…I’m not sure I can tell you the difference between Iraq and Iran”? After Iran was listed as part of an “Axis of Evil,” Satrapi wrote this book to show the complexity of Iran as a country full of history, and yes, different from Iraq. She writes in comic book form (she doesn’t like the phrase “graphic novel”). This book did more for explaining Iran’s more recent history and current state to me than NPR did and certainly better than Toby Keith or Alan Jackson. Plus, I met her, and she’s hilarious.

Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller, 2003

Some question his theology, others question his appropriateness. I recommend it as a re-introduction to Christianity.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon, 2003

The choices people on the spectrum of autism and aspergers make seem totally normal and logical in this book. The style lets you get to know the characters closely, if scientifically, even though the character in the book lets few other characters get to know him. Plus, the book successfully incorporates math.

I am the Messenger, Mark Zusak, 2005

Read this book. Stop whining. Go live the life you have, not the life you always wanted. Zusack also wrote The Book Thief, a novel about WWII Germany that’s narrated by Death (and you like him), which is notable in itself, but Messenger hits closer to home. After all, this is a book list about accessibility, and Death talking to you is less accessible than thinking your job sucks.

Freakenomics, Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, 2005

Not teen angst, but written at practically at a high school reading level for the Americans that might like economics, except they still aren’t sure what happened with Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. A favorite chapter turned into the book Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. (It’s not nearly as sensational as the title makes it out to be.)

Flight, Sherman Alexie, 2007

Most “best of” lists will include Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, and justly so. But you start out feeling sorry for the character in that story. In Flight, Alexie doesn’t let you pity this kid because he’s too smart and too dangerous. Alexie uses great pop culture/youth culture references without sounding like product placement, and he has excellent historical references without sounding like either your history books or someone with a vendetta against history books. Where else can you find an author who references the Indian Child Welfare Act and the White Stripes?

My Life As a Rhombus, Varian Johnson, 2008

This book should not be notable, it should be average. Both Johnson and the main character are African American, and while the characters are not whitewashed, they aren’t “on the wrong side of the statistics.” The books isn’t about gangs, drugs, or how tough the ghetto is. We already have Sharon Drapper, Walter Dean Myers, and seemingly a quarter of the graduates from the Teach for American program telling us that story. I’m excited for his next release in 2010, Saving Maddie. Here’s hoping the next decade of publishing delivers.

5 Notable Series
An extra bonus

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Notable in the sheer volume of things that could happen to one sibling group, and the unapologeticly obvious vocabulary building, Snicket wrote this decade’s “Boxcar Children.”

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This book went viral in the best way, with mostly girls passing it around and skipping important things to finish it. The first one is the best, and truthfully deals with weight, sex, part-time jobs, and family and with the delicacy and humor that Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul–Tough Stuff only wishes it could do.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

These books went viral in the worst way, with most girls passing them around and skipping important things like independence and interest in humans. Still, nobody gets this much press or this many hater websites without a real understanding of their audience and what they want to hear. See Also: Sarah Palin

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

If you didn’t read the books, you shouldn’t be reading this list, because apparently you won’t take anybody’s recommendations. Trust me, the movies will fail you if you expect to understand the next decade’s references back to these books. If you didn’t read the books, accio Remedial Reading.

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Perfect people thinking they’re awesome, but they’re not. Walls giving you what you ask for. Current technology looking archaic. Microchips being implanted into a teenager’s impressionable brains. This has all the makings of a sci-fi thriller, and it delivers a perfect distopia.