Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Chilean-book buzz, a multiplatform prince, an L.A. Christmas extravaganza, and three (more) heavenly voices from Ireland.

Courtesy of Joan Marcus/ITVS
Courtesy of Steve Schofield/SonyBMG
Courtesy of UBI

'2666' in 2008

The most buzzed-about book of 2008 is 2666, a masterful epic by Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño. Bibliophiles should consider the three-volume paperback set instead of the hardcover; the design is gorgeous, the books can be tucked into a knapsack, and they come with a slipcase. Best of all, you can read the book as Bolaño, who died in 2003, intended – rumor is he wanted "2666" serialized so his family would be left with more money. It's $30 in stores; you'll find it cheaper online.

the prince gets a makeover

In the 1980s, a video game called Prince of Persia was all the rage – a side-scroller that tested the mind and the fingers. Now, Ubisoft is releasing a next-gen update for the Xbox360, Playstation3, and Nintendo Wii. The graphics are splendid and the puzzles are challenging without being frustrating. "Prince of Persia" is a relatively cartoonish thrill ride – a good choice for those who like their video games without the blood and gore.

introducing Jackie's Family... again

When musical producers first approached the makers of the documentary classic "Grey Gardens" about setting the film about Jackie Kennedy's eccentric East Hampton aunt and cousin to music, they worried that the ladies would lose their dignity. But PBS's Independent Lens film Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway reveals they were treated with care and respect. A fascinating look at the making of a show that earned 10 2007 Tony nominations. Airs Tuesday Dec. 23 at 10 p.m.

(book)mark their words

Literature blogs are a dime a dozen these days. Can't decide which one to click? For our money, the best of the bunch is, produced by a handful of industry insiders and hosted by It isn't updated as often as we'd like, but the writing is punchy, the posts just-long-enough, and the content's incisive. If you're looking for analyses of publishing trends and author news, add Galleycat to your – ahem – bookmarks tab, pronto.

An L.A. Extravaganza

When the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opened in 1964 in downtown Los Angeles, legendary politician Kenneth Hahn made its founder promise it would be open free of charge to the public at least one day each year. That event is the decades-old annual L.A. Holiday Celebration, a six-hour Christmas Eve extravaganza featuring hundreds of the region's top talents: Korean drummers, children's choirs, gospel singers, Mexican mariachis, Filipino dancers, and much more. Watch an hour-long high-def version, L.A. Holiday Celebration 2008 (PBS, 10 p.m.), this Christmas Eve.


Father Eugene O'Hagan, Father Martin O'Hagan, and Father David Delargy were probably above-average choirboys. The three Roman Catholic clergymen from Ireland, collectively known as The Priests, have recorded a bestselling classical album that showcases their, well, heavenly voices. Featuring the choir of Philharmonic Academy of Rome on arias such as "Ave Maria" and "Pie Jesu," the eponymously titled album has a pious purpose: Most of its profits will go to charity.

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