First, the novelist Lucy Corin, whose 2004 book Everyday Psychokillers is a rich, vivid portrait of adolescence in South Florida. It's extremely well-written, with a strong sense of place and -- as you might guess from the title -- of violence lurking in the background, periodically punching through to the front. The narrator is obsessed with the cultural idea of the psychokiller, and interludes explore the idea in other contexts: the myth of Osiris is retold with an emphasis on his dismemberment, while the true tale of serial murderers Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole here becomes a swampy southern legend. The book is hard to classify: part regional literature, part literary horror, part unterrified young adult novel. Highly recommended.
Second, the musician Andrew Bird, who played at the Funkbox here in Baltimore last week. I last saw Bird in 1998, when he fronted a hot-jazz group called the Bowl of Fire; it was, put simply, the best concert I've ever witnessed in Washington, D.C. This time he was accompanied by just a drummer, plus an array of pedals that allowed him to create tape-loops and thus accompany himself on several instruments at once. It's astonishing to watch him play a violin part, overdub another violin riff right there on stage, then pick up a guitar and start singing, occasionally filling in yet more notes with a xylophone. All of which would just be a novelty if he weren't also an inventive composer and a simultaneously strange, morose, and funny songwriter ("I was getting set for my accidental suicide/the kind where no one dies"). If you have a chance to see him live, don't pass it up.