Critical Notes



We recently heard from NBCC member Carole Goldberg and the Hartford Courant’s editorial cutbacks, which included her position as books editor.

After 23 years at the Courant, 7.5 as books editor, I’ll be out the door July 31.

The Courant, as you may know, is undergoing a deep “rightsizing” that is eliminating close to 60 full and part-timers. No one is happy about this, including the managers who must do the layoffs.

It was a privilege to be books editor here… I had great support from my editors in the Features Department and the artists in our Graphics Department. I had the great fun of talking to writers and the never-to-be-forgotten thrill of interviewing Kurt Vonnegut on the porch of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, as he snuck a forbidden cigarette and excoriated George Bush. Got to chat up Tom Wolfe in the Twain house library on another occasion. Life was good.

But perhaps the best part of the job was reading and reviewing authors who were not so well-known, but have tremendous talent. Ellen Litman, Holiday Reinhorn, Laura Ruby, Judy Budnitz, David Maine, Abigail Thomas, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Jon Clinch, Bill Roorbach come immediately to mind, and there were many, many, many more. That was the real kick: telling readers about authors they should discover for themselves. And working with terrific reviewers—NBCC members John Freeman, Kit Reed, Allen Barra, Chauncey Mabe among them—was also wonderful.

What am I going to do next?

Not go to Disney World.

But I will spend some time on Cape Cod and then hope to recast myself as a freelance reviewer, primarily for the Courant and other Tribune papers, and with a little luck, for others as well. And in a shameless piece of networking, here is how you can reach me after I leave the country’s oldest continuously published newspaper…