Critical Notes

Wednesday Roundup 1


NBCC board member Art Winslow on Ethan Canin’s “America, America:”

“It seems but a minor stretch—if that—to speculate that the seemingly redundant title of Ethan Canin’s new novel, “America America,” is to suggest that there are indeed second acts in American life.”

Kindle update: NBCC board member and blogger Scott McLemee on the coming digital age of the university press, and the Los Angeles Times launches a Kindle edition.

Former NBCC president John Freeman on David Sedaris and NBCC board member Lizzie Skurnick on Jennifer Weiner’s “Certain Girls” in’s expanded books section.

Florida Sun-Sentinal book editor Chauncey Mabe’s take on Sedaris here.

Entertainnment Weekly’s “New Classics”—50 books, including NBCC award winners and finalists, compiled by a team of critics including NBCC board member Jennifer Reese.

NBCC board member Ellen Heltzel on Joyce Carol Oates’s “My Sister, My Love.”

“To author Joyce Carol Oates, subtlety is a dirty word, and no more so than in her latest doorstopper novel, “My Sister, My Love.” Disclaimers aside, it’s clearly inspired by the tragic life and death of pint-size beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey — an event that resulted in a media circus and gives Oates the chance to poke not the Ramseys, but the Ramsey watchers, in our collective eye.”

Barry Unsworth interviewed on Littoral, the blog of the Key West Literary Seminar. (He’ll be at the fest in January 2009.)

NBCC member Adam Kirsch on “Posthumous Keats,” notes “…no writer ever yearned for fame more ardently than Keats.”

NBCC member Todd Shy passes along the link to this essay by Morgan Meis,  which he describes as “another log on the fire of the state of criticism.  This is a thoughtful essay about the ways criticism gains its authority from ‘closeness’ rather than critical distance.”

NBCC member Gregg Barrios on Patti Smith. (Barrios’s play, Rancho Pancho, debuts at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival on September 27. He says the play centers on Tennessee Williams and his Mexican American muse.)