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Beach Books for Beach Week

mbToolbox 6.19 Image.jpgGoing on vacation soon? (I certainly am — in two weeks, actually.) Then you must be thinking of your “summer reading,” your “beach reading,” or whatever else you call that neglected list taped to the fridge door. Fretting you’ll show up with last season’s Michael Connelly novel? Let be of some assistance.
This summer is awash with new releases by media luminaries like Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown as well as tart little novels by some of the best fiction writers in the business. Don’t be afraid of a little sand between the pages, folks:

  • God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens (Twelve Books) — Our favorite liver-damaged pundit returns with another in a string of god-damning tomes (see Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, etc.).
  • The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown (Doubleday) — The controversial former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker takes a swing at the Princess Di tragicomedy.
  • A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Carl Bernstein (Knopf) — The first lady and presidential frontrunner gets a 640-page treatment from the journalist who helped break Watergate and take down Nixon. (See also Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Jeff Garth and Don Van Natta Jr. [Little, Brown and Company].)
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese) — Yes, it’s got “beach” in the title, but it’s also the latest novel by one of the best British writers of his generation. Here, the former Booker Prize winner uncovers sexual tension in pre-Beatles England.
  • Falling Man by Don DeLillo (Scribner) — A harrowing exploration of post-9/11 fallout by the author of White Noise and Underworld.

  • Rock Critic Seeking Clips? Look Online!

    mbToolbox 6.18 Image.jpgGetting your rock writing published can sometimes seem like an all or nothing proposition — a choice between a byline in a handmade zine or a rejection letter from Spin — oblivion or ubiquity. But if the hugely popular has done anything for music journalism, it’s demonstrated the immense clout an online-only publication can have, opening the floodgates to Web sites dedicated to music criticism and younger writers. While they may not be able to offer much in the way of financial compensation, sites like and can provide a wealth of writing opportunities. Writing for Prefix over the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed countless records and live shows, and scored face-time with artists I’d never have the chance to meet otherwise. I only needed to provide a sample review to start contributing, and within a couple months I was snagging Q&As with The Libertines and The Arcade Fire for an online publication less than two years old. While Pitchfork can be picky, most music sites will take on any hungry writer schooled in pop music’s diverse terrain. And with a .com byline, your readers will be more than just your buddies.