Critical Notes

Roundup 12

By Jane Ciabattari

Doris Lessing, an NBCC finalist for memoir (and a Nobel laureate), recalls her mother putting her in charge of sitting hen on their “our farm in the old Southern Rhodesia,” watching out for hawks,  here.

Former NBCC President John Freeman talks to Mark Kurlansky about his time as a lobsterman on the Long Island Sound (it was war).

Considerations of Roberto Bolano’s 2066, an NBCC finalist in fiction, continue. William Deresiewicz weighs in.

NBCC Blogging Committee Chair Eric Banks on Amos Oz’s odd little new book “Rhyming Life and Death” here

In an op ed, Chitra Divakaruni disputes those who would label “Slumdog Millionaire” “poverty porn.”

Former NBCC board member Jonathon Keats reads at City Lights in San Francisco Thursday night at 7 pm from his new book, “The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six.”

Our new Reader in Chief, Barack Obama, is the centerpiece of a panel on “How History Was Made: Books That Inspired a President,” coming up Friday night, February 13,  at 7 pm at McNally Jackson in New York. Panelists: Christopher Jackson, Executive Editor at Spiegel and Grau; Laura Miller, co-founder of and author of “The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventure in Narnia;” David Samuels, contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, one of The Columbia Journalism Review’s “Ten Young Writers on the Rise;” Colm Toibin, author (most recently of “Mother’s and Son’s;” and Susan Jacoby,scholar and author of “The Age of American Unreason” and the forthcoming “Alger Hiss and the Battle for History.” RSVP.

Adam Kirsch laments that Sholem Aleichem’s novels don’t reach the heights of his stories, and notes that the author, who was born 150 years ago, “has the melancholy glory of being the greatest writer in a language that barely outlived him.”

Donna Seaman reviews “The Sky Below,” Stacey D’Erasmo’s “episodic novel of mayhem and myth.”

Morris Dickstein remembers John Updike—the writers, the works, the man.

Gregg Barrios remembers Updike in LA.

Joseph Peschel invokes Updike in his review of the anthology “Love Stories” (but there’s no Updike among the 19 authors).

Michael Lukas, a finalist for the Virginia Quarterly Review’s Young Reviewers contest (winners and finalists got a year’s NBCC membership), finds Jimmy Carter’s new book more diplomatic than his last. Lukas on the VQR blog here, with an addendum to the Paper Cuts “Reading List for the Israeli-Pakestinian Conflict.” Lukas: “I was troubled to find no works of literature on the list. My degree in is in comparative literature (Arabic and Hebrew), and so I’ve always been of the opinion that literature is the best way to understand other cultures.” His list is what he calls “a small sampling of two deep and inexorably intertwined literary traditions, with four from the Palestinians, four from the Israelis, and one in between.”

Also on the VQR blog: Young Reviewers finalist Jacob Silverman on the move of book reviews from print to Podcasts.

New issue of Women’s Review of Books here.