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Vadino, Diane

Vadino, Diane

PERSONAL:

Born in Philadelphia, PA. Education: Studied at San Francisco Art Institute; Columbia University, B.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY.

CAREER:

Freelance writer. McSweeney's (publishing house), original staff member.

WRITINGS:

Smart Girls like Me, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of the BunnyShop blog. Contributor to periodicals, including Surface, Allure, Nylon, ID, and Spin.

SIDELIGHTS:

Diane Vadino is an American freelance writer. She worked as an original staff member of McSweeney's, the San Francisco, California-based alternative publishing house, after completing a bachelor of arts degree at Columbia University. Vadino has contributed articles on fashion, music, and popular culture to a number of periodicals, including Surface, Allure, Nylon, ID, and Spin. She is also author of the BunnyShop Web log.

Vadino published her first novel, Smart Girls like Me, in 2007. The novel introduces Betsy, who finds herself in the midst of a personality crisis when her best friend asks her to be the maid of honor at her lavish South Pacific wedding. Betsy must learn to deal with the changes occurring in and around her life in the New York pre-Y2K setting.

In an interview on the Web site This Next Blog, Vadino explained that the novel is "really about a girl who'd be perfectly happy if nothing, in the world, ever changed one bit, but who's sort of forced to grow up. … It's about how what for me was always pretty much the most important relationship in my life evolved. Best friends are tricky, because they're like family, but they're not, really—and it's that tension, that prospective sense of loss, that is what I think can make that relationship so special, but also so stressful, too." In an interview in Publishers Weekly with Alexandra Sanidad, Vadino shared her special connection to the story's protagonist, stating that, "obviously, I understand Betsy very well and may have undergone similar trials, but it is fiction. There's no getting around the fact that there's a level of autobiography to it." She mirrored this opinion in an interview on the NoGoodForMe Web site, saying that "Betsy's enough me and some of the others are enough people in my world that when" reading critical reviews of the novel, "there's a real pinch." In the same interview, she explained how the novel started. Vadino recalled: "It's weird because I never really set out to write a book. I'd been doing loads of spoken word slams, and always felt like a big dummy because I'd be competing against people doing pieces about oppression or war or economic injustice—and there I was doing these pieces about some guy who dissed me at a bar. But all those pieces added up to a story I was really desperate to tell and at a certain point I just started looking at them as small parts of a larger whole."

A contributor to Marie Claire found Betsy to be "acerbic" and "self-deprecating." The same contributor observed that the novel contains "seriously good writing." Booklist contributor Emily Cook remarked that "Vadino ensures that readers will experience every awkward, beautiful, bumbling, and honest detail in" Betsy's life. A contributor to Publishers Weekly praised Vadino, noting that she "does a good job in her first novel," particularly in capturing the inner conflict of Betsy. The same contributor summarized that "the novel's bittersweet tone carries through to a satisfying conclusion." A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews described Betsy as being "bright yet anxious," noting that the story is "full of sharp observations and deadpan wit." Although mentioning the novel's "average plot," the critic concluded that Smart Girls like Me is a "slightly twisted chick lit bound to hit home with irreverent young women."

Writing on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, Swapna Krishna discussed the problems that Betsy faced in her life, commenting that "the gratifying thing is watching her grow from these experiences." Krishna concluded by calling the novel "a fine debut," adding: "Though at times rough around the edges, it is a solid piece of fiction that is as enjoyable as it is witty and interesting. It is safe to say that many will be looking forward to her next book with impatience and delight." Norah Piehl, reviewing the novel on the Bookreporter.com Web site, observed that "Vadino turns the typical ‘chick lit’ formula on its head. Just about the only thing about the book that resembles the typical chick lit formula is its pink cover, cluttered with clothes." Although noting many of Betsy's problems and pointing out that the novel "lacks a conventional happy ending," Piehl concluded that, "like Betsy's authentic voice and true-to-life concerns, however, these elements just make the book feel all the more smart—and true."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2007, Emily Cook, review of Smart Girls like Me, p. 34.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2007, review of Smart Girls like Me.

Marie Claire, October 1, 2007, review of Smart Girls like Me, p. 73.

Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2007, review of Smart Girls like Me, p. 166; August 20, 2007, Alexandra Sanidad, "PW Talks with Diane Vadino: Not the End of the World: Blogger and Freelance Writer Diane Vadino Captures the Premillennial Hopes and Fears of a Single New York City Editor in Her Debut Novel, Smart Girls like Me," p. 42.

ONLINE

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 2, 2008), Norah Piehl, review of Smart Girls like Me.

Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (July 2, 2008), Swapna Krishna, review of Smart Girls like Me.

NoGoodForMe,http://nogoodforme.filmstills.org/ (March 12, 2008), author interview.

This Next Blog,http://blog.thisnext.com/ (October 24, 2007), author profile and interview.

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