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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Smiley’

Why Did Wilco Write a Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend?

The indie rock band Wilco just released their complex and inspiring new album, The Whole Love. The record concludes with a song, “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).” We caught up with novelist Jane Smiley, confirming that the haunting song is indeed about her partner.

Smiley (pictured, via Mike Bennington) explained: “Apparently my partner was chatting to Jeff Tweedy about some religious thoughts. I don’t quite understand the song, but those who’ve heard it seem to really like it, especially the music. I do think that it is really funny that someone as square (and old) as myself would end up in the title of a song in an alt-rock group’s album.”

The 12-minute song won’t be available until September 27th, but here’s a sample of lyrics from the song: “One Sunday Morning /  Oh, one son is gone. / I can see where it’s dawning / Over the sea / My father said what I had become / No one should be.”

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Los Angeles Review of Books Unveils Preview Site

While the Los Angeles Review of Books won’t officially launch until late 2011, the literary criticism publication unveiled a preview site today.

The site opened with “The Death of the Book” by Ben Ehrenreich. The site will be updated with daily content, including Geoff Nicholson writing about silent film star Buster Keaton, Jane Smiley exploring the work of novelist and biographer Nancy Mitford, and Jefferson Hunter writing about private detective novelist Ross Macdonald and oil spills.

Here’s more about the new site: “The complete Los Angeles Review of Books site, launching in late 2011, will be much more complex and multidimensional, featuring reviews and essays, reader discussion forums, video of author interviews and events, an IMDB style archival reference database for the book world, and much more, taking full advantage of the latest web technologies. Reviews of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, philosophy, art, science fiction, young adult, children’s and more, will have multiple links leading through the site, allowing readers to follow their inclinations into new territories, finding new books, authors, and genres.”

Michiko Likes Fiction Again!

A few months ago I did an impromptu search through the New York Times archives to find empirical evidence that lead book critic Michiko Kakutani has, indeed, developed a distaste for fiction. And for all of 2006, the only two novels she liked were Dana Spiotta‘s EAT THE DOCUMENT and Dave Eggers‘ WHAT IS THE WHAT. But 2007 must be a better year already because Michiko’s in a much better reviewing mood of late: this month alone, she’s alloted rave reviews (you know it’s a rave when “stunning” and “dazzling” are overused) to Richard Flanagan’s THE UNKNOWN TERRORIST and Michael Chabon‘s THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION. Earlier, she had good things to say about Lionel Shriver‘s THE POST-BIRTHDAY WORLD (about “an idiosyncratic yet recognizable heroine about whom it’s impossible not to care”) Lauren Fox‘s STILL LIFE WITH HUSBAND (“a delightful new voice in American fiction”) and Martin Amis‘s THE HOUSE OF MEETINGS (“arguably his most powerful book yet”). Of course, the crank-meter was still way high for reviews of books by Yasmina Reza, Howard Norman and Jane Smiley, but even in those pieces the vitriol seemed somewhat muted.

What’s going on? Could Michiko be changing her tune about fiction? Is her editor giving her better books to read? Because this happy critic mood is a little unnerving, frankly…

The Orange Broadband Prize Longlist

Have to remember to write in that “broadband” in the official title, but the UK’s award for best novel by a woman has announced its longlist, which includes Booker Prize & NBCC Award winner Kiran Desai, Costa Award winner Stef Penney, Jane Smiley, M.J. Hyland, Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, Anne Tyler and Jane Harris. In total there are nine British authors on the list, four Americans, two Australians and two Canadians. The other three are from China, India and Nigeria.

“This year’s Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction longlist is an absolute delight given the diversity and quality of the work,” commented Muriel Gray, Chair of Judges. “Our decision has resulted in a spectrum arching from several new novels of outstanding merit, to exciting new books from important and established authors. Subject matter varies from the minutiae of personal experience, the exuberance of free thinking, the thrilling and entertaining epic, to the witty, the highly political, the challenging and enlightening.”