Other People, a twice-weekly author interview podcast hosted by TNB founder Brad Listi, has just rolled out its 100th episode.  The guest is the great George Saunders.

Read what people are saying about the show right here.

Subscribe for free at iTunes right here.

The first-ever Firefly Music Festival descended upon the Dover International Speedway from July 20th-22nd  with a lineup boasting acts with profiles so high, one was forced to contemplate whether both artists and fans could simultaneously fit within the state’s modest borders (one in, one out?).  Every hotel within 30 miles advertises “No Vacancies- Welcome Firefly!” Telltale campground sprawls around the gates; weekend homes for the braver souls.

Juicy staff picks to take you through the back nine of the summer…

What do you mean, you’ve never heard of “thrash-folk?”

No, I’m not talking about a tribe of mud people who live in the woods of West Virginia; I’m referring to a brash and unstoppable force called River City Extension, who are, as you read this very sentence, unleashing one of the freshest sounds of the summer, shaking booties and destroying genre classifications along the way.  While their sound brazenly defies traditional classification,  if we must, let’s mix equal parts folk, Americana, and punk.  With such an eclectic brew, the question is fully begged: is it possible for a band without a clear genre to gain a following, especially in a time when labels are everything?

This month, our resident music critic Kevin O’Conner agreed to give his harried editor a break and handle the lion’s share of the reviews. His one requirement was that we give him a crack at the new Fiona Apple album. Happy to oblige, Kevin…

FIONA APPLE

The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

(CLEAN SLATE/EPIC)

 

The release of a Fiona Apple album is always an event. Her second album (When the Pawn…) directed a middle finger toward mainstream conventions with its 90-word title. On 2005’s Extraordinary Machine, debates raged regarding the source and quality of a leaked version of the record (not to mention the inexplicable hype surrounding the whole “Free Fiona” campaign).

Quenby Moone, Nonfiction Editor of The Nervous Breakdown, has a piece on her father’s death in TNB Books’ new collection, The Beautiful Anthology.

 

What is your personal definition of beauty?

Growing up with artists, I learned to look at things critically all the time. Everything is up for review–clothing, landscapes, food. Our house has become one long meditation on beauty which evolves over time. Right now I seem to be obsessed with the beauty of tiny microenvironments, terrariums and aquariums.

Greg Olear, author of the novels Fathermucker and Totally Killer, is a senior editor at The Nervous Breakdown and a contributor to TNB Books’ new collection, The Beautiful Anthology, where he wrote about the beauty of imperfection.

 

What is beautiful that is also ugly?

Ann Coulter. She is clearly on Lucifer’s payroll. She’s distractingly attractive, especially for a Republican, which makes the things she says even more repugnant. Bill Maher is enamored of her; have you seen her on his show? He’s usually relentless, but she turns him into a puppy dog.

Few things put more doubt and insecurity in us than our physical attributes and our own taste for what is attractive, and yet beauty still holds the power to reveal the sublime in the seemingly banal. For some, beauty comes face-to-face in a single arresting instant. To others, it is found in contrast with something else, observed over a period of time. Some of the contributors in Beautiful reclaim their definition of beauty; others recognize it in places, objects, and motion; still for others, finding their own beauty is a continuing process. In her introduction to The Beautiful Anthology, editor Elizabeth Collins  considers our conflicting opinions of beauty, “how one person’s beauty, or what one finds beautiful, is not always appreciated by others.”

The tent waited for us, her canvas wings hovering over a field of stubble that sprouted rusty cans, A&P flyers, bits of glass bottles, and the rolling tatter of trash that migrated through town to settle in an empty lot just beyond the city limits. At dusk, the refuse receded, leaving only the tent, lighted from within, a long golden glow stretched out against a darkening sky. She gathered and sheltered us from a world that told us we were too poor, too white trash, too black, too uneducated, too much of everything that didn’t matter and not enough of anything that did. Society, or at least the respectable chunk of it, saw the tent and those of us who traveled with it as a freak show, a rolling asylum that hit town and stirred the local Holy Rollers, along with a few Baptists, Methodists, and even a Presbyterian or two, into a frenzy. Brother Terrell reveled in that characterization.

This week, Girls’ writer/director/actress Lena Dunham went on NPR’s Fresh Air to address criticisms that the show is a particularly whitewashed view of entitled twenty-something women emotionally adrift in New York City.  Even before the show aired on HBO, Girls had garnered a tremendous amount of buzz as a series helmed, for a change, by a woman.  Just a few episodes in, the buzz erupted in debate on Girls’ representations of gender, class, and race as well as its worthiness of being the focus of so much debate to begin with.

 

A round-up of high quality tweets from people in the world of literature…

Laurie Penny:

 

A round-up of high quality tweets from people in the world of film and television.

Zach Braff:

A round-up of high quality tweets from people in the world of literature…

Daniel Pinchbeck:

 

 

I would say: At dusk, the crops’ silhouettes held to the sky like herons cemented into the earth, leaves flapping feebly in the Northern California wind, unable to lift themselves from the forthcoming hands of the Morning Pickers, and the watchful green eyes of Lady Wanda—I would say that, but I was likely stoned.  It’s just as likely, the crops didn’t look like herons at all, there was no wind, and it may not have even been dusk.  It could have been morning.  It could have been afternoon.  Having worked on a medical marijuana farm, filling six notebooks with scribblings of varying degrees of sense, and engaging in the attendant and standard subcultural vices, I have made of myself an unreliable narrator.

I get nervous sometimes.

Anne Lamott, she’s a big reason I write. A big influence for a lot of us. Bird by Bird? She wrote that.

I’ve got her phone number in my hand. The publicist said she’d just be getting off a plane. Flying sucks.

Theoretically, I should be good at interviews. I’ve got a Masters in Psych with quite a bit of experience in active listening and cross-examination.  Problem is, even though I’ve done tons of interviews by this point, whenever I talk to someone I really love, I turn into a thirteen-year old girl.

But maybe that’s what makes a good interviewer. Neil Strauss, the guy who wrote The Dirt and a most excellent book on the art of the interview, Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead, says you shouldn’t try to be so cool, to go with real emotion, lighten up and just connect as one flawed human to another. My old Rabbi friend says you should never waste a chance to show appreciation for the good things a person has sown into your life. Then, there’s a quote from Anne herself: Flounder as a spiritual act.

Man, I don’t know. Here goes.

(ringing…)