Pleasant discoveries

Not only does Elif Batuman have a blog, but she has just posted a long and favorable review-essay of a self-published collection of short stories by Ezra Koenig, a former student of mine who happens to be the front man of Vampire Weekend, a preppy Afro-pop band whose new album goes on sale tomorrow, 29 January 2008. Pitchfork calls the album “one of the most refreshing and replayable indie records in recent years,” and Elif calls Ezra’s short stories “really fun.” I happily concur with both assessments (though I don’t think the stories are for sale anywhere), and also recommend the “takeaway concerts” that Vampire Weekend recently did for La Blogothèque. (I’ve linked to the French version of the page, because the descriptive prose is wonderfully plummy. The geniality of the French comments caused me to spin a largely evidence-free theory that perhaps the Francophone blogosphere has a sunnier and more generous disposition than the Anglophone one. Please don’t disabuse me right away, anyone.) Be forewarned that, in general, watching Blogothèque concerts causes one to overlook the inconvenient truth that one is without musical talent and wish that one were twenty-five and living in Paris as an indie rocker. Fortunately, with practice it is possible to keep the daydream so vague that one need not specify an instrument.

While I’m on the topic of recommending miscellaneous pleasures, I’ll also link to Amy Elkins’s photographic portraits of shirtless young men of unorthodox body-types in front of floral wallpapers (the one reminiscent of the young Beau Bridges as he appeared in the bathtub scene in Hal Ashby’s The Landlord is currently hanging in the Yancey Richardson gallery in New York, which is how I happened across Elkins’s work), and to Alan Hollinghurst’s very funny review (online for subscribers only) of Sheldon Novick’s second volume of Henry James biography.