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Snap judgments - Radio Silence

     Based in Oakland, this self-described “literature and rock & roll” biannual is like Lapham’s Quarterly for the Converse-clad. The intelligently curated collection (fiction, essays, interviews, and poetry) features musicians writing about liter­ature and literati writing about music, though the actual discussion of music might be as fleeting as a reference to a song playing on a laptop in Daniel Handler’s short story “Here I Am.” Amid the touted but not terribly compelling pieces by Tobias Wolff and A.E. Stallings are provocative gems: Ted Gioia’s music-history analysis “Did Robert Johnson Sell his Soul to the Devil?”; Jim White’s personal essay “The Bottom,” about Cormac McCarthy’s influence on his life; and San Francisco journalist Jon Mooallem’s recollection of his darkly hilarious pen-pal relationship with the troubled poet Hayden Carruth. Scattered throughout are snippets of works from Edna St. Vincent Millay and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose short story “Winter Dreams” is paired with an essay by his great-granddaughter, musician Blake Hazard. Published by Dan Stone, formerly a documentary producer at the National Endowment for the Arts, with a board that includes Neko Case of the New Pornographers and Zach Rogue of Bay Area band Rogue Wave, Radio Silence is thoughtful, ambitious, and a little gritty: a promising combination.

 

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