An Essential Musical History Gets a Grand New Edition: On “England’s Hidden Reverse”

"England's Hidden Reverse"

When reading a book about music, it’s generally a good sign when I find myself jotting down notes on artists to check out and albums to buy. In the case of David Keenan’s England’s Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground, recently reissued by Strange Attractor Press, it’s not spoiling much by saying that I was reading it with several tabs open: to AllMusic and Bandcamp and Bull Moose Music and Forced Exposure, eyeing reissue editions and complete discographies and obscure side projects. It’s that kind of a book, told with both rigor and enthusiasm, and making for a compelling read.

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Gold Dime’s Andrya Ambro on the Genesis of “No More Blue Skies”

Andrya Ambro of Gold Dime

I’ve been a fan of Gold Dime‘s music ever since I came across them playing at the 2014 edition of Basilica Soundscape. Do you enjoy your music intense and rhythmic yet pushing towards transcendent moments of bliss? Well then. The group’s third album, No More Blue Skies, arrived on the scene last month, and it pulls off the impressive feat of retaining the group’s core sound while also finding intriguing ways to expand it. I spoke with Gold Dime founder Andrya Ambro to learn more about the album — and the band’s recent tour.

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Writing Art About the Art of AI: An Interview With Sean Michaels

Sean Michaels

At this point, it feels safe to say that Sean Michaels is fond of big ideas in his work, whether he’s telling stories of starcrossed lovers during the Cold War or asking big questions about technology’s ability to create art. The latter concern is at the heart of Do You Remember Being Born?, in which an acclaimed late-career poet named Marian Ffarmer is offered an unexpected and lucrative job: collaborating with an algorithm on a new literary work. Michaels’s novel never goes where you’d expect, and in doing so raises a host of bold and thrilling questions about creativity, identity, and intelligence. I chatted with him about the novel’s origins and the challenges of writing a book that echoes emerging technology.

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Prose at Play: Watching “Kinderkranhenhaus” On Stage


Earlier this week, I was interviewing the writer Jeff Noon when the subject of his past as a playwright came up. Noon’s far from alone in having one foot apiece in the worlds of prose and theater; Samuel Beckett is probably the best-known example of someone doing interesting work in both disciplines, but Cormac McCarthy and Michael Frayn also come to mind. New York has seen a few examples this year of stage work by writers best known for their prose, including BAM’s staging of The Wife of Willesden, a play by Zadie Smith and the subject of this review, The Brick’s production of Jesi Bender’s Kinderkrankenhaus.

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The Secret Life of a Yak, With Demons: On Michael Cisco’s “Pest”

"Pest" cover

Two seemingly contradictory things can be true at the same time, and it is in the spirit of that timeless adage that I will make the next two sentences. Michael Cisco’s novel Pest is about a man who is also a yak, and Michael Cisco’s novel Pest is one of the more accessible works in the bibliography of one of the nation’s most singular writers of full-bore Weird fiction.

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An Insider’s Look at Publishing: Bethanne Patrick on Season Two of “Missing Pages”

"Missing Pages" logo

Last year saw the debut of Missing Pages, a new podcast about scandals in the literary world — and the larger issues that many of them reveal. After the podcast launched, I spoke with host Bethanne Patrick about its genesis. And now that we’re into the second season of Missing Pages — featuring episodes on the rise of Colleen Hoover, the ins and outs of ghostwriting, and the rise in book bans nationwide, among other topics — it seemed like time to check back in with Patrick to learn more about where the new season was headed and how the first season informed it.

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Sonny Smith on Making the Video For Sonny and the Sunsets’ “Shadows”

telephone pole shadows

There’s a bespoke feeling to “Shadows,” the new video from Sonny and the Sunsets’ new album Self Awareness Through Macrame. There’s a reason for that — namely, that the video consists of a series of 180 paintings by the band’s Sonny Smith. The whole record abounds with bittersweet and understated pop numbers, indicative of Smith’s impressive discography. As Jennifer Kelly wrote at Dusted, “He’s a master of twisting realism into gentle fantasy, so that it’s hard to say where the grit leaves off and the fairy dust starts.” I spoke with Smith about the process of making the video — and that interview, along with a closer look at some of his paintings, follows.

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Is “The Devil’s Cut” a Bargain Worth Accepting?

"The Devil's Cut" cover

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: there’s this new comic book publisher, and they’re making a splashy debut with a new line of comics. There’s been a bit of that this year, but right now I’m here to talk about the new press DSTLRY and their recent anthology The Devil’s Cut, which features an impressive array of writers and artists, including the people behind several of my favorite comics of the last five years.

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