Monitor Picks

Ira Glass goes to the cinema, Los Angeles writers create a chain book, and Jhumpa Lahiri soars to the top of the charts.

Courtesy of Knopf
Courtesy of David Weisner/Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Courtesy of Wildflower records

A free digital darkroom

It's a familiar-enough quandary: You've taken a bunch of digital photos and want to crop and resize them. But you don't have the cash for the latest deluxe edition of Photoshop. One possible solution:, an intuitive, accessible website devoted to free photo manipulation. Crop, enhance, adjust, or rotate your shots. It's all here, and it's free. Extra features available if you upgrade for a $9 monthly fee.

A deserving top fiction seller

We love Jhumpa Lahiri. Her first collection of short stories, "Interpreter of Maladies," earned her a Pulitzer Prize. Not to be outdone, the literary wunderkind's second collection, "Unaccustomed Earth," debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list to rave, and well-earned, reviews.

Lennox's 'river' of tears

The best performance on "American Idol" this year? Incontestably, it was Annie Lennox's solo piano take on Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" during the recent "Idol Gives Back" episode. Purchase her version on iTunes. (Keep a box of Kleenex nearby.)

Glass brims over

Ahead of the second series of the television adaptation of his NPR radio show, "This American Life" (Showtime, May 4, 10 p.m. EDT), Ira Glass (r.) will be coming soon to a theater near you. On May 1, the host presents a special live edition of the show at 330 theaters nationwide at 8 p.m. EDT. Visit for details.

A new chain book

In the city where everyone has a screenplay in a desk drawer, the Los Angeles Times invited its readers to join a month-long collective project to write a novel. Birds of Paradise, a modern noir look at the corrupt underbelly of the entertainment culture, whose first and last chapters are written by the paper's columnist, Steve Lopez, rolls out online this weekend. A special live reading will be held at the 13th annual L.A. Festival of Books this Sunday on the UCLA campus. Read it at

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.