Critical Notes

Late-May Roundup


NBCC Balakian winner Wyatt Mason compiles a critical mass of critics —with 25 links to 25 critical essays published during the first three weeks of May 2008 to prove his point—on his new blog at Harper’s.

Former NBCC board member Laura Miller on “Who Killed the Literary Critic?” [with Louis Bayard].

NBCC board member Oscar Villalon honors Oakley Hall, the “writers’ champion,” who died earlier this month, leaving a universe of writers saddened. Villalon writes, “His fifth novel, ‘Warlock,’…a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1958, earned the pulpit-pounding praise of Thomas Pynchon, who called it ‘one of our best American novels.’” Geoffrey O’Brien reviewed “Warlock” in Bookforum when it was reissued after 50 years, with an introduction by Robert Stone, who noted, ““I remember thinking how wonderfully clear the book was. Not only clear, as I remember, but full of light. The sensation of reading back into time was very strong because the style made itself invisible as good style will when it is accomplishing its purpose.”

NBCC criticism finalist Cynthia Ozick on Lionel Trilling as a failed novelist.

NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn on “Nixonland.”

NBCC member Adam Kirsch on Milton vs Shakespeare, and on Rivka Galcehn’s “Atmospheric Disturbances.”

NBCC board member Celia McGee on “Body Awareness,” the new play by Annie Baker, and on Harvard Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt.

NBCC member William Georgiades talks to NBCC fiction finalist Aleksandar Hemon about his new novel, “The Lazarus Project.”

Former NBCC president John Freeman blogging for The Guardian from the Hay Festival.

NBCC board member David L. Ulin on the 60s revisited in four recent novels.

NBCC member Morris Dickstein on political novels and fact.

NBCC board member Scott McLemee on the new biography of Richard Rorty.

NBCC member Jon Wiener talks to Pico Iyer about Tibet, China, and the Dalai Lama.

NBCC member Kathryn Harrison on Honor Moore’s “The Bishop’s Daughter,” which made the NBCC Good Reads 3 nonfiction list.

In case you missed it, NBCC board member David Orr on Helen Vendler on Yeats.  And Michael Chabon on Richard Price’s “Lushland,” tops on the NBCC Good Reads 3 fiction list.

NBCC member Frank Wilson on Gerald Stern’s “Save the Last Dance.”

NBCC board member Ellen Heltzel finds that Andrew Sean Greer gives a less than benign view of the 1950s in his new novel, “Portrait of a Marriage.”

NBCC board member Geeta Sharma-Jensen talks with NBCC fiction winner Louise Erdrich about her new novel, “The Plague of Doves.”

NBCC member Paula L. Woods reviews the new Chris Bohjalian novel, “Skeletons at the Feast.”

NBCC member Dan Cryer on Ron Hanson’s new novel, “Exiles.”