“Charles Dickens had orphanages and workhouses, the Brontë sisters had the wild moors, and modern writers have high school.” So begins L.A. Times television critic Mary McNamara‘s take on The Vampire Diaries, the CW’s answer to Twilight (premiering tonight at 8). The show is loosely based on L.J. Smith‘s books of the same name and McNamara gives it a qualified thumbs up. She concludes that this latest addition to the vampire canon is “pure froth, but it is very welcome froth, especially in a genre that seems sometimes in danger of taking itself a little too seriously.”
The latest installment of #LitBeat involves musings on puritanical projection, the phrases “ass-banging” and “mucus flaps” and a least one instance of the word “boner.” Our correspondent was there for The New Inquiry read along of Millions contributor Mike Thomsen’s new book, Levitate the Primate: Handjobs, Internet Dating, and Other Issues for Men.
Can’t get your fill of end-of-the-world scenarios? Playboy has a list of five new books to give you your eschatological fill. We have a few recent pieces about literary apocalypses too: reviews of Alan Moore‘s Jerusalem (here) and Colson Whitehead‘s The Underground Railroad (here), and Dana Spiotta‘s interview with After James author Michael Helm. Go forth and destroy (in your minds).
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.
Booker-snubbed, but still widely anticipated, Philip Hensher’s King of Badgers is out today. As are Ali Smith’s There But for The, Erin Morgenstern’s uber-hyped debut The Night Circus, and The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, who wrote here about writers’ work getting better as they get older.