Patti’s Back (And Other News)

1. Patti Smith’s new album Twelve contains nothing but cover versions, continuing a tradition that dates back to Rage, Guns N Roses and (the earliest example I can think of) Joan Jett. It’s odd to think of poet Patti releasing an album with no original lyrics, but she gives us a marvelously personal selection of songs in exchange, including Bob Dylan’s “Changing of the Guard”, Neil Young’s “Helpless” and Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble”. If you’re looking for Patti Smith online, make sure you go to (if you’re looking for real estate in the Bellevue, Washington area, though, check out

2. The PEN World Voices Festival is coming back to New York City this April! Last year’s happening was very satisfying, and this year’s lineup includes Don DeLillo, Kiran Desai, Neil Gaiman, Huang Xiang, Patti Smith, Pico Iyer, Saadi Youssef, Jonathan Franzen, Billy Collins and Sam Shepard. There’s never a shortage of political undertones here, and last year’s keynote speaker was Orhan Pamuk. This year, the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture will be delivered by David Grossman, the Israeli novelist whose soldier son was killed in the Israel/Lebanon war last summer. I’m betting that many attendees will stay away from this controversial keynote, but I’ll be there.

3. The second Words Without Borders anthology is out!

4. One nice thing about the New Yorker’s lush new online environment is that I can now effortlessly link to funny pieces like Simon Rush’s The Wisdom of Children.

5. Here’s an interview with poetry man Bob Holman at CecilVortex, which is also eight weeks into a grueling Thomas Pynchon Against The Day Deathmarch.

6. The proud creation of a bookstore window display featuring Steve Aylett’s Lint (via Bill).

7. I’ve been enjoying the lively 2007 Tournament of Books at The Morning News. Well, I didn’t enjoy seeing Sam Savage’s poor Firmin getting ass-kicked by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but I loved watching Richard Ford’s vastly overrated The Lay of the Land get laid down flat by Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn.

8. Want some good Beat Generation/Poetry/Alternative live DVD’s? Check out Thin Air Video‘s collection.

9. Congrats to one of the very best bloggers in the biz, Ed Champion, for scoring some major recent newspaper review assignments and now joining the National Book Critics Circle. When I see my colleagues and friends amassing on the print side of things, I wonder if I’m missing some major boat because I don’t want to write newspaper book reviews. Well, maybe I am, but for now the format doesn’t appeal to me. It’s great that a few good online literary critics are being recognized by their more established peers after getting published in print, but will book bloggers ever be recognized by their peers without getting published in print? Until that day comes, at least there’s one clique that will have me.

5 Responses

  1. Cecil VortexLevi, thanks for
    Cecil Vortex

    Levi, thanks for the info on Cecil Vortex. It’s an interesting site. I am also reading Against the Day (and have been for the last two months) so I was especially interested in the Pychon deathmarch.

  2. Don’t Forget ‘Pin-Ups’…Long
    Don’t Forget ‘Pin-Ups’…

    Long before that Joan Jett covers album in the late ’80s, David Bowie’s third and final record with the Spiders From Mars band, ‘Pin-Ups’ (circa 1974), was a cover tunes LP. If I recall correctly, they redid The Who, The Kinks, The Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, etc….

  3. Changing of the GuardAs a
    Changing of the Guard

    As a long-time dylan fan, i may be almost alone in my belief that street legal is not a throwaway album. and changing of the guard is the best song on the album, in fact. one of dylan’s top 10 best songs ever. as far as sheer poetry, changing of the guard has almost no equal in dylan’s canon. i have not heard patti smith’s version yet, but it says something that the ultimate rock poetess has chosen it for this album of covers.

  4. Good call, R. W., you’re
    Good call, R. W., you’re right about “Pinups”. I don’t think it had a Velvets song, but it was an earlier example of an all-covers album.

    Another one I forgot to mention (and, like, Pinups, an album I listened to a lot) is John Lennon’s “Rock and Roll”.

  5. Mark, you’ll get no argument
    Mark, you’ll get no argument from me about “Street-Legal”. It’s probably my personal favorite Dylan album, and probably the one I’ve listened to the most and related to the most. “Changing of the Guards” is amazing, so is “Senor”, “True Love Tends to Forget”, “Where are you Tonight”. Not surprised, Markk, that you’re in the small Street-Legal fan club too.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!