Teen vampire drama Twilight arrives in theaters on Nov. 21. With a huge teen audience ramped up for it, cultural critics have already started deciphering the meaning of Twilight's popularity, a thankless task that resulted in a massive Vanity Fair photoshoot this month. For people who will take anything seriously, James Wolcott's essay on Twilight proves the movie is the ultimate shell for anything and everything: Gossip Girl, Michelangelo, Chopin, Into the Wild, Superman, the gays, Sarah Palin and, of course, Bob Dylan. What are adults who should know better trying to read into Twilight?Here's the full list of cultural references from Wolcott's piece: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula, Vampire Academy, Gossip Girl, The Morganville Vampires, Vampire Kisses, The Vampire Diaries, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, Into the Wild, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries, Six Feet Under, Harry Potter, Debussy, Rudolf Nureyev, Chris Isaak, Michelangelo, Chopin, Superman, the gays, Sarah Palin, James Dean, David Lynch, Bob Dylan, Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, and Brideshead Revisited. An impressive array, to say the least. Even the books themselves are part of the Twilight phenomenon, says Wolcott: "The physical properties of the books themselves may explain their popularity. They’re thick, chunky, promising a fat read—you don’t so much curl up with them as gulp them down." Salon's Laura Miller also noted the chameleon-like qualities of the series written by Mormon housewife Stephenie Meyer:
Highlights and lowlights from the NY literary scene:
· Caleb Carr fired off a letter to Salon book critic Laura Miller calling her "Reason no. 8 why the soul of New York City is dying," and saying that she was a "bitchy wise ass," who's part of "the club that meets at [NYT book critic] Michiko's [Kakutani] to watch 'Sex in the City' and spout a lot of nonsense about things they don't know." He had gotten bad reviews.
· UES millionaire author Jonathan Franzen received a $20,000 NEA grant, which he claimed in September to have used to buy two expensive paintings. He then retracted the statement, saying he had actually used the money to buy "17 sculptures by struggling artists."
· Colson Whitehead, winner of the NY Public Library's $10,000 Young Lion Fiction Award, mentioned that he had never returned the books he used to research his novel. Library president Le Clerc replied that he had a "bright future," but would now have to pay his $10,000 in library fines.
· Prozac Nation author Elizabeth Wurtzel says that being near the World Trade Center during the September 11th attacks "really annoyed her."
2002 awards [MobyLives via Hands Free]