Recommended Reading: This fascinating piece on Vladimir Nabokov and his wife, caretaker, and longtime muse, Véra. Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor: a Family Chronicle made our exhaustive list of difficult books a few years back.
Guernica interviews Meghan Daum about The Little House on the Prairie, finding a home in Los Angeles and the necessity of restructuring the conversation about children. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen's review of her essay collection The Unspeakable and Edan Lepucki's take on Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids.
"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."
More than ever, we need literature that gives Westerners a compelling entrée into—a way of better understanding—the lives of war-and-terrorism fraught regions. Over at Bloom, T.L. Khleif, recent recipient of a Rona Jaffe award, writes about Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon, a collection that immerses readers in the tribal areas of Pakistan prior to the rise of the Taliban. Among other notable honors, Ahmad joins the pantheon of late-blooming male authors who would not have ever published were it not for the stubborn encouragement of their wives.
Hopefully you've read Eryn Loeb’s Millions review of Goodbye to All That, a collection of essays by noted writers on the weird sorrow of leaving New York City. Contributors include Dani Shapiro, whom we interviewed back in October, Emma Straub, who wrote an essay for The Millions back in July, and Millions staff writer Emily St. John Mandel. At the LARB, Mason Currey says he dreaded reading the book out of fear that it would raise old anxieties, but then says that his hesitations “quickly evaporated” when he started reading.
At The New Yorker, Sarah Miller humorously learns why only positive book reviews might be a bad thing. "If St. Petersburg is the Little Engine That Could of city names, then the main character, Raskolnikov, is the Little Engine That Could of elderly pawnbroker murderers," she writes in her review of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.