100 Days, 100 Nights

The title of Ashford and Simpson?s "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" remains the yardstick of R&B. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings?s 100 Days 100 Nights, featuring a veteran singer who sounds like old school soul circa 1972 is part of her very DNA, revels in feel, a quality that just can?t be faked. Jones, who after a promising start in the 1970s, dropped out of the music business -- eventually becoming a Rikers Island corrections officer before her return in the 90s -- has the kind of mighty vocal assurance that announces itself from the first note on. Yet what best confirms her as the genuine article is the ability to hold back a voluminous voice to best effect; a classic quality that separates her from the mellisma -- obsessed showoffs that clog today?s airwaves. 100 Days is Jones?s third collaboration with the Dap-Kings, and the palpable comfort between singer and band is one of the album?s greatest joys. The Daps had a recent sprinkling of second-hand glory when producer Mark Ronson turned to them while crafting Brit-pop sensation Amy Winehouse?s Back to Black to achieve a sound that no modern technology could conjure up. The Dap- Kings may be for hire, but playing with Jones must feel like coming home for them. --

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.