weekend links: protest music, Rick Bartow, Austin band names

Rick Bartow
Rick Bartow

Rick Bartow, Crow's Creation V (1992). Image courtesy the Gilcrease Museum.

It may have been published 51 years ago, but we just can't stop rediscovering John Williams' StonerThe Guardian called it "the must-read novel of 2013." That same year, The New Yorker called it "the greatest American novel you've never heard of." In 2014, The New York Times ran an article titled "You Should Seriously Read 'Stoner'Right Now." The accolades continued to pile up with The New York Review of Books' 50th anniversary edition last year. Find out more about America's hottest new old book in this interview with NYRB's Edwin Frank. [Lit Hub]

Protest songs have been around for as long as people have been killing each other, but Destruction Unit's J.S. Aurelius has taken the art form to the next level with his new album, Goofin' Drones. Not content to merely complain about how the U.S. is a corrupt imperialist death machine, Aurelius took software used to "spoof" drones and essentially translated it into synthesizer code. The results are haunting in their unexpected beauty. [thump]

Merle Haggard, the country legend and infamous anti-protester, passed away this week at the age of 79. Sure, his politics sucked, but apparently he came to somewhat regret his most well-known song, the conservative anthem "Okie from Muskogee." If I inadvertently became Richard Nixon's political pawn, I'd be embarrassed, too. [The Telegraph]

Native American artist Rick Bartow passed away last Saturday. His work The Cedar Mill Pole was displayed in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House in 1997, and an exhaustive retrospection of his work is currently on display at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Our friend Liz Blood covered the exhibit back in February, and we reprint her article here in Bartow's memory. RIP. [The Tulsa Voice]

"The history of modern African fiction is essentially 100 years of branding disaster... African fiction is packaged and circulated, bought and sold not on the basis of its aesthetic value but of its thematic preoccupation." Ainehi Edoro opens our eyes to the ways that Western reviewers look at African literature, and it's both damning and revealing. (Is anyone surprised?) [The Guardian]

Medium is a publishing platform known for its wide array of voices, allowing non-professional writers a place to voice their opinions and essays. But it got a whole lot more professional this week with the announcement that a slew of notable websites, including The Awl and Electric Literature, will be moving over to the platform. The Hairpin and others will soon be joining as well. We wish our fellow publishers well in their new home! [Medium]

Austin is well known for its music. What it's less well known for is its terribly unimaginative band names. That'll probably change with the creation of the Austin Band Name Generator, which makes clear just how many bands have the words shakes, whiskey, dads, and spirit in their names. See how many names you can create before an actual band shows up. Don't worry, it won't be long.

—Sean Redmond