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Wonder Woman turns 66

A couple of literary-themed birthdays are being reported in the media this week.

Reuters has picked up on Wonder Woman’s 66th birthday “ not much of a milestone, admittedly, but 2007 is, incredibly, the first year that the comic is being penned by a woman, one Gail Simone.

In an interview, Simone explains how Wonder Woman weathered the shifting mores of the 20th century.

A: When she was originally created by William Moulton Marston, he definitely was for strong female characters. But he did have some what we would consider bizarre ideas.

Q: For example?

A: He really thought that the magic lasso was to beguile men and women into doing what she wanted them to do with her beauty. And that’s not a feminist ideal that we really adopt so much today. We like to talk more about character and intelligence and personality and things like that, rather than just beauty.

Simone has plans for the magic lasso, as well:

[What] I’m going to show is that the magic lasso is the most dangerous weapon in the DC universe. It’s more dangerous than any of the major weapons, it makes Wolverine’s claws look like popsicle sticks.

In other news related to iconic expressions of the American spirit, Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities turns 20 this year. In a New York Times piece, Anne Barnard explains what 1987 New York had over 1977 New York.

For much of this year, the lens of New Yorkers’ nostalgia has been trained on 1977, looking back 30 years to the blackout and looting, to the Son of Sam killings, to disco. But 1987, too, was a seminal moment for New York, then torn between new heights of wealth and decadence on Wall Street and the draining of jobs and taxpayers from the rest of the city.

Barnard paints contemporary New York in rose-coloured tones, though “

New York is on track to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, down from 2,245 in 1990. The white population is no longer shrinking, and diverse immigration has made the city less black-and-white.

The crime drops that marked the Giuliani era ” along with some divisive police confrontations with minorities ” have continued under a Bloomberg administration that civil rights leaders credit with bringing more interracial respect.

“ and updates readers on some of the characters depicted in Bonfire:

Twenty years later, the cynicism of ˜The Bonfire of the Vanities’ is as out of style as Tom Wolfe’s wardrobe, proclaimed the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose counterpart in the book ” Reverend Bacon ” warns that he controls the burgeoning steam of black anger.

Another lawyer whose doppelgänger appears in the book is Edward W. Hayes. Today, there’s not enough crime to become a criminal lawyer, lamented Mr. Hayes, a longtime friend of Mr. Wolfe’s who was the model for the dapper, street-smart defense lawyer who takes up Sherman’s case. Nobody goes around and sticks up supermarkets anymore, or armored cars.

Reportedly, Wolfe’s new novel will be about immigration, but no pub date has been set.