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Good Reads: Away, Will Oldham, Snark, and Annie Leibovitz

I'm anxious to share what I've been reading with you, especially a lovely book I devoured on the plane during my trip back east. It's called Away (now out in paperback) and it's the fifth novel from Amy Bloom ( Come to Me ). & Away spans many decades as it follows the courageous Lillian Leyb, a young Jewish immigrant whose search for her daughter takes her from New York's Lower East Side to the Alaskan frontier. & Along the way she meets a colorful array of characters, my favorite being the prostitute Gumdrop and her pimp, Snooky Salt. & But there's also the touching Yaakov Shimmelmen and the wounded John Bishop. Bloom writes her way into these characters inner lives with such insight and beauty. & I can't recommend this book enough for its lyrical writing and gutsy heroine.

I'm also reading Annie Leibovitz's new book At Work , which was under the Christmas tree this year with my name on it (thanks, Mom!). & This is not a book of photography but rather a memoir of her working life. & Leibovitz, unlike Bloom, is not a lyrical writer. She's as matter of fact and terse as they come. & However, she's got great stories about the early days of her career with Rolling Stone and the origins of some of her most famous photographs. & She writes of photographing John Lennon hours before he was killed ( right ) and going on tour with the Rolling Stones. Leibovitz also explains why she doesn't like photographing live music, and how she began placing her subjects in the middle of an idea, the style of portraiture that has become her signature. & It is the latter that I admire most about her work. & Many of her most famous portraits are also included in the book. & For anyone interested in photography, this is an ideal read.

Musician Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy.


Kelefa Sanneh's profile of singer songwriter Will Oldham in this week's New Yorker is a great character sketch of a reluctant subject. You many know Oldham as Bonnie Prince Billy, one of the names under which he records. Oldham is a prolific musician with a strong fan base and he's become an indie darling, though he adamantly shuns the title (in true indie style). In Sanneh's profile, we learn he has three musical heroes: Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen, and...believe it or not...R. Kelly. Oldham even had a role in Kelly's hip-hopera Trapped in the Closet . & His most recent album is Lie Down in the Light .

A cherry ripe inspired macaron dessert.

This site is amazing! It's called TasteSpotting and features page after page of the most beautiful food photographs. & It really is food porn. & Just looking doesn't quite stasify, so if you click on the photo, it takes you to the original recipe, blog post, or story where it was featured. & For food lovers and even the mildly curious, it's a real treat.

If your brain tends to merge all the media you take in, and you find yourself casting the books you read with the perfect actor or actress for the movie version, than you'll definitely enjoy StoryCasting . & Find your favorite books, cast them, and then compare your choices with other amateur casting directors on the site.

And finally, David Denby ( New Yorker ) and Adam Sternbergh ( New York Magazine ) go toe to toe over snark and its value to the cultural dialogue. You can guess who comes down on which side - Denby writes a book attacking snark , and Sternbergh snarkily defends it here . I'm going to read Denby's book, so I'll let you know what I think. &


Do you have any book recommendations? & Articles? & Websites? & Share them with us...