Critical Notes

NBCC Roundup June 21, 2010

By Bethanne Patrick

Thanks, everyone, for your patience over the last few weeks. We're definitely still running the roundup and I'm definitely still collecting links every week, so please keep sending them to me:

In the Globe and Mail, Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews The Ghosts of Martyrs Square by Michael Young:

The Ghosts of Martyrs Square, which derives its title from downtown Beirut’s central plaza, chief venue of popular anti-Syrian demonstrations that erupted after the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, seamlessly interweaves history, political analysis and personal anecdote.


Tom Bissell's Extra Lives reviewed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Craig Morgan Teicher:

Really, what Bissell argues in this book is that video games shouldn't be — and, at their best, already aren't — mindless, zombifying popcorn for the brain, but challenging examples of an extremely sophisticated art form with its own literature and history, albeit a short one.


Julie Klein in Obit magazine on The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings:

Hastings excels at mining Maugham’s work for autobiographical clues, a sometimes problematic venture. While not a penetrating work of literary criticism, The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham is nevertheless much more than juicy gossip. It offers a searching look at how, from the raw material of his own failed loves, the tragedies of others, and the exotic backdrops of the Far East and South Seas, Maugham produced fiction that remains compelling today.


Michael Lindgren writes a roundup of three Father's Day-worthy titles for The Washington Post:

Like Bruce Feiler and Donald Unger and millions of other fathers, [Jay Mohr is] not afraid to value communication and empathy. That's good news for everybody.

Bethanne Patrick, NBCC member, is a freelance critic and author who lives in Arlington, VA.