Out this week: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang; Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta; The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet; New People by Danzy Senna; Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah; and White Plains by Gordon Lish. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
"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."
What's better than being a writer? A writer who gets paid. Manjula Martin and Jane Friedman have launched the new digital magazine Scratch, which gives writers information on how to advocate for their work. The preview issue is free and contains essays on what freelancers can learn from street vendors, Cord Jefferson on outgrowing his materialism, and an interview with Jonathan Franzen. You can subscribe here.
My nominee for this round has been posted at the LBC blog. Though it didn't grab my cohorts enough to be named our "Read This" pick, I do highly recommend it.I recently happened upon bookride, a blog by a rare book dealer that each day posts about a valuable book, explaining why the book is collectible and why it's worth what it is. Fascinating stuff. A recent post looks at a rare copy of The Waste Land.Simon at Bloggasm rounded up a bunch tributes to Kurt Vonnegut including a slightly modified version of my post from last week.
Muna Mire has written an incisive and timely essay for The New Inquiry on the Black Feminist classic Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michele Wallace. Coinciding with last month’s reissue of Black Macho by Verso Books, Mire’s essay discusses justified anger rightly-directed and the potential utility of Wallace’s “Black Movement” in the context of today’s racially-charged political climate.
“The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly ‘informational text’ instead of fictional literature,” writes Lyndsey Layton. Is this the end of The Catcher in the Rye?