Critical Notes

Wednesday Roundup 3

By Eric Banks

In the Los Angeles Times, NBCC board member David Ulin remembers John Updike:

Also in the LA Times: Ed Park weighs in on Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden, a collection of the complete Armitage family stories, while Donna Seaman reviews fellow NBCC member Stacy D’Erasmo’s The Sky Below.

In the Chicago Tribune, Mabe Chauncey reviews Barry Unsworth’s Land of Marvels, while columnist Julia Keller writes on poet Kevin Stein’s Sufficiency of the Actual.

The just announced recipient of the NBCC’s 2008 Balakian Award, Ron Charles, reviews Jayne Anne Phillips’s Lark and Termite in the apparently terminal pages of the Washington Post‘s Book World (NBCC members Laura Miller, in Salon, and Heller McAlpin, in Newsday, write on the Phillips’s book this week as well). McAlpin also reviews Neil deGrasse Tyson’s The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet in the Christian Science Monitor and writes on David Denby’s Snark for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, Slate has Peter D. Kramer on Daniel Bergner’s The Other Side of Desire, in the Philadelphia Inquirer board member Carlin Romano writes on Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct (a book that Michael O’Donnell also recently considered in the Barnes and Noble Review), and Brooke Allen reviews two new bios of Samuel Johnston in the Wilson Quarterly. The San Francisco Chronicle includes NBCC members Joan Frank (reviewing Paul Harding’s Tinkers, and the Denver Post publishes former NBCC president John Freeman’s review of Nami Mun’s Miles from Nowhere. Paper Cuts poses a few stray questions to NBCC member Heidi Julavits, board member Celia McGee profiles playwright Lynn Nottage in the New York Times, and in the New Republic, member Adam Kirsch is no fan of Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem.

And the new issue of Bookforum includes a number of contributions by NBCC members: Sarah L. Courteau on T.C. Boyle’s The Women; Mark Sarvas on John Haskell’s Out of My Skin; Robert P. Baird on Joseph Donohue’s Terra Lucida; Stefanie Sobelle on Tim Davys’s Amberville; David Haglund on Andrew Porter’s The Theory of Light and Matter; Gideon Lewis-Kraus on The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon  by David Grann and The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia  by James Palmer; Michael Roth on Susan Buck-Morss’s Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History; Albert Mobilio on Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting; and Nicole Rudick on Daniel Johnston.