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Critical Mass

Noteworthy new releases for October

BOOKS

 

The New Kings of Nonfiction

Riverhead Books, $15
“Beacons in this age of journalism,” is how This American Life host Ira Glass describes some of his favorite writers working today. In this book
he includes Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker story “Six degrees of Lois Weisberg,” about Chicago’s beloved cultural commissioner, as well as work by Susan Orlean and local James McManus.

 

Hiding Out

Featherproof, $13.95
Jonathan Messinger, cohost of the local literature-meets-comedy hour Dollar Store, finds inspiration for his show from dollar store bookshelves. He brings this spirit of randomness to his début collection of short stories, which is full of lonely, but endearing characters, including himself.

 

Vanishing Point

W. W. Norton & Company, $100
Upon turning 70, Chicago essayist Joseph Epstein reminisces about bygone days at Joe Stein’s on Roosevelt: “[L]ong before the awareness of cholesterol, the first of many snakes to have crept into the American gastronomic Garden of Eden.” The collection is his largest to date.

 

The Best American Comics 2007

Houghton Mifflin Books, $22
Chris Ware, the celebrated local graphic novelist, teamed up with Punk Planet author and coeditor Anne Elizabeth Moore to fill this 368-page anthology. For fans of Lynda Barry, R. and Aline Crumb, Kim Deitch, Gilbert Hernandez, Seth, Art Spiegelman, and more.

 

MUSIC

 

Heresy and the Hotel Choir

Flameshovel
The third album’s the charm for the Milwaukee band Maritime, a reincarnation of 1990s emo band The Promise Ring. Over the years, members faced major label difficulties and a brain tumor scare suffered by singer Davey von Bohlen. Their new release signals a bright future, with brisk beats, sophisticated guitar work, sobering lyrics, and power choruses.

 

Widow City

Thrill Jockey
The familiar and unexpected coexist nicely on the sixth album from Eleanor and Matt Friedberger, otherwise known as The Fiery Furnaces,
a brother-sister duo from Oak Park who now reside in New York. The album’s crazy quilt of opposing styles and spastic lyrics isn’t for everyone; a good litmus test is to imagine the soundtrack to a James Bond film.

 

A Night at the Ritz

New Line Records
Last year, former Pumpkin James Iha signed spunky local popsters Office to his label New Line. Now comes their label début, recorded almost entirely in frontman Scott Masson’s Ukrainian Village apartment. The catchy lyrics, synthesizers, and la-la-las sound a little like Wham! Which means it’s fun, if forgettable, sparkly jingle-jangle from a band that’s great live: Catch them Oct. 3rd at Schubas.


 

Photography: Black Box Studios, Inc.

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