Critical Notes


By Eric Banks

NBCC member John Madera sends along word of several new reviews: At The Rumpus, he’s recently written on Chelsea Martin’s Everything Was Fine Until Whatever and weighed in on the “last book I loved” (he swoons over Eugene Lim’s Fog & Car). At Tarpaulin Sky his reviews of Log of the S.S. Mrs Unguentine by Stanley G. Crawford and Micheline Aharonian Marcom’s The Mirror in the Well just appeared. And at Word Riot, here are his thoughts on Amelia Gray’s AM/PM.

Madera has an essay, on Aleksandar Hemon (whose Lazarus Project was an NBCC finalist in fiction last year) in the new issue of Open Letters too. Elsewhere in the July Open Letters are Thom Daley on the fallible Founding Fathers, Brad Jones on baseball’s great Satchel Paige, Michael Adams on the enduring enigma of Gypsy Rose Lee, London editor Bryn Haworth on Britain’s first female poet laureate, and Eli Wanamaker on the colorful men and women who exploited the Comstock Lode. Review essays are on offer from Lianne Habinek on Javier Calvo’s latest, John Rodwan on Salman Rushdie, Sharon Fulton on Jim Krusoe’s surreal fiction, and Adam Golaski on the stories of Jay McInerney, plus Irma Heldman’s “It’s a Mystery” column on the second of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

The new issue of Gently Read Literature (“critical reviews of contemporary poetry and literary fiction”) is up and on-line: July’s goodies include James Reiss on B.H. Fairchild’s Usher, Maria Espinosa on Crazy Love by Pamel Uschuk, Stephan Delbos on Bill Berkson’s Portrait and Dream,Gary Charles Wilkens on American Hybrid (edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John), Claudia Smith on Shane Jones’s Light Boxes, Aleathia Drehmer on Shaindel Beers’s Brief History of Time, Gary Beck’s essay “Raw Realism, Gwyn McVay on Lisa Jarnot’s Night Scenes, Ahmad Saidullah on Gazelle Tracks by Miral al-Tahway and Tales from Dayrut by Mohamed Mustagab, and David Appelbaum on Katie Cappello’s Perpetual Care.

In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, NBCC member Ellen Heltzel writes that the thirteen stories in Daniel A. Hoyt’s debut collection, Then We Saw the Flames, “glimpse a certain sad reality” even if they “rarely develop in a way that gives you pause.”

In the Chicago Tribune, NBCC board member Art Winslow reviews Nick Reding’s Methlandand how drugs destroyed an American community. And in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Carlin Romano checks in from Vienna on our own philosopher-in-chief. Meanwhile, in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Jacob Silverman asks “Does Every Book Deserve a Review?”

NBCC member Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews Philippe Claudel’s Brodeck (“the best novel I have read in a long time”) in the Washington City Paper and his review of Tova Murad Sadka’s Farewell to Dejla: Stories of Iraqi Jews at Home and in Exile appears in the current Chicago Reader.

Barbara Jane Reyes shows the love for NBCC board member Rigoberto González and Critical Mass’s very own Small Press Spotlight; Geeta Sharma-Jensen writes on novelist A. Manette Ansay; and at CJR, Herodotus at the beach? What books are journalists recommending for their summer vacations?