“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.”
In an effort to diversify the comics industry, Marvel’s latest superhero isn’t another white man in a cape but a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City. Kamala Khan, alias Ms. Marvel, can change shape and will fight villains and her parents’ expectations when the series debuts in February. Pair with: Matt Madden’s history of American comics in six panels.
Nikil Saval isn’t the only n +1 editor with a new book out. Through his magazine’s publishing arm, cofounder Benjamin Kunkel is releasing a play, Buzz, which comes on the heels of last month’s Utopia or Bust. At Full Stop, William Harris reviews Buzz, calling it “the type of play that propels itself by introducing the indefinite edges of a mystery.” It may also be a good time to read Kunkel’s Year in Reading entry.
“Now I wrote until near dawn, wanting a map of the literary nation, a beautiful evocation of how we are truly a nation of village and city and prairie and brownstone, of Rockies and bayous and mesas. Novels give to every reader someone else’s home. Can we not see this – we of wonder and grievance?” Susan Straight creates a map of America in 737 novels, prompting us to remember the perennial literary question: What is the greatest American novel?
Debut short story writer Matthew Vollmer gets some love.For those left baffled by descriptions of “the Purdie shuffle” in last week’s New Yorker and New York Times, the mighty Bernard “Pretty” Purdie offers a demonstration.At the International Edible Book Festival, you can chase down your Remembrance of Things Pasta with some Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Bread (via The Book Bench)Despite (or because of?) its compassionate ecumenicalism, Sana Krasikov’s One More Year wins the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize.A 1979 cover letter from then-unknown Kazuo Ishiguro, re: the story “Getting Poisoned.” Bonus features: Hemingwavian brevity, grease stains.The New York Times Magazine’s editor ponders the fate of long-form journalism……while Vanity Fair questions the Times’ relentless interactivity.Stephen King, once thought to be considering retirement, has been as prolific as ever, now announcing the November publication of a 1,120-page novel, Under the Dome, about a town that has been sealed off by an invisible force field.The Complete Review turns 10!30 Poets/30 Days: a celebration of children’s poetry”Notes and Errata” on D. T. Max’s profile of David Foster Wallace “The Unfinished.” (via kottke)Kassia Krozser says “Enough With The Smell of Books, Okay?” about the olfactory argument in the ebooks debate.William Zinsser on writing On Writing Well and keeping it up-to-date for 35 years.Google poses a literary stumper.