Few would come forward to claim a likeness to this character from Cathleen Schine's serialized murder mystery in The New York Times Magazine, who is expected at an artists' colony but instead shows up as a beached corpse. But notoriously acerbic Vanity Fair columnist James Wolcott did, on his blog last week. And as in any good mystery, there's a motive, though Wolcott didn't mention it then: In a 2004 Vanity Fair story on Schine and her ex-husband, New Yorker film critic David Denby, Wolcott said aspects of a Schine novel were "hackneyed" and "generic," and compared it to a "Lifetime movie shot through a milk-bottle lens."
Like Schine's fictional "culture thug" who "murder[s] people's work," Wolcott lacks a college diploma, but the character may only be a composite — the critic in the story also has a TV career and doubles as a "sycophantic" celebrity profiler.
Schine declined comment, but Wolcott wrote WWD in an e-mail, "I suspect Cathy wasn't too thrilled with my pan of her novel...and decided to bump me off fiction-wise to repay me for my sins.
"I'm in favor of literary feuds and score-settling being played out like a Jacobean drama in the slick pages of The New York Times Magazine. But I do think she might have given her critic-corpse a scene or two instead of serving him up like cold mashed potatoes." Which is, perhaps, the best revenge of all. — Irin Carmon
GET THOSE VIRTUAL AD DOLLARS: It's no news Hearst Magazines has had a busy year on the digital front — but its Cosmogirl title is the only one so far to go into the virtual world. And, no, the editors don't just want their own avatars: According to new data from eMarketer, by 2011, 53 percent of children and teen Internet users will enter a virtual world at least once a month. So to reach that demographic, Cosmogirl has partnered with established virtual Web site There.com, where readers will be able to enter the Cosmogirl Global Village.