Critical Notes

Monday Roundup, June 16, 2008


NBCC member Craig Seligman loves Uwem Akpan’s debut story collection Say You’re One of Them, “a book so overwhelming that when you put it down—if you can—it takes a minute to adjust to the world around you.” He also enjoyed David Sedaris’ new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.
Clayton Moore likes Nam Le’s story collection The Boat: “A potent debut with a unique perspective on a larger world.” Steve Winn interviewed the Vietnamese-born author about soccer, the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and his unpublished “roman-a-cleffy” first novel in the San Francisco Chronicle.

NBCC member Laura Miller has mixed feelings about Minders of Make-Believe, Leonard Marcus’ history of the children’s book business.

Also in the New York Times Book Review, NBCC member Bruce Barcott reviews David Guterson’s new novel, The Other, and contends that his work keeps getting better.

Julie Wittes Schlack reviews Lebanese novelist Rabih Alameddine’s The Hakawati“a wonderful book, poignant, profane, filled with life . . .” Last week Michael Krasny interviewed Alameddine on his radio show, Forum.
In the Seattle Times, NBCC member Steve Weinberg admires Andrew Ward’s Civil War history, The Slaves’ War. And blogging for the Los Angeles Times, Kristina Lindgren puts Weinberg’s new biography, Taking on the Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller, on her vacation reading list.
NBCC Board member Carlin Romano calls Ann Hood’s Comfort “a sublimely written memoir, literary in every good way, about abandoning oneself to grief, then finding the thread of life again.”
Novelist Anthony Giardina recommends Mark Harris’ Pictures at a Revolution, about the five films nominated for the 1967 Oscar for best picture.
Bob Morris—“a paunchy, middle aged gay man with a phobia about committment”—talks to NBCC member Chauncey Mabe about his fondness for South Florida and his new memoir, Assisted Loving.
NBCC member Robert Baird doesn’t appreciate the “paint-store adjectives” in Campbell McGrath’s Seven Notebooks. McGrath doesn’t appreciate Baird’s review.
NBCC member Adam Kirsch loathes Patrick Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.
And NBCC Board member Scott McLemee writes his 200th column for Inside Higher Ed.