Critical Notes

NBCC Roundup June 29, 2010

By Bethanne Patrick

NB: Please send your links (to reviews, interviews, essays) to Bethanne Patrick, thebookmaven at gmail dot com.


At Chapter 16, Margaret Rankl interviews “Mr. Peanut” author Adam Ross:

Personally, I read fiction, in part, because I get to spend time with people who aren't my people—Murakami's people, for instance—and require of these narratives only truth and beauty. Humbert Humbert, for instance, isn't my kind of people—he's a pedophile, after all—but he certainly describes obsession beautifully.


Meredith Maran reviews “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan for

Trying to “follow” the “plot” of “Goon Squad” is like trying to count the pores on your arm while tripping: tempting, yes, but a distraction from all the pyrotechnical fun. With Egan you’re in the hands of a master, so relax and let it all wash over you: time folding into itself, people running into their former and future selves, and most of all, the writing, the writing, the writing. 


Carolyn Kellogg reports on the first Book Blogger Con for The LA Times:

The numbers have exploded: Today there are around 300 book blogs actively participating in an online community notable for its inclusiveness. The new world of book blogging is more book club than book criticism, warm and interconnected.


Rebecca Oppenheimer's Howard County Times Book Bag for June 24:

More than a thriller, Emily St. John Mandel's second novel (after “Last Night in Montreal”) is an extraordinarily written meditation on identity, chance and choice. Literal-minded readers may find some plot points far-fetched, but Mandel's haunting prose more than makes up for any credibility gaps. Her ability to evoke a mind-numbing day in the office, a tourist paradise in the off-season and everything in between is nothing short of breathtaking.


Jacob Silverman in the B&N Review on “The Life of Irene Nemirovsky:”

Nemirovsky's life story stands on its own as complicated, richly detailed (she coped with the violence of the 1917 Russian Revolution by reading Wilde and collecting shell casings when the shooting stopped), and tragic. Sadly, this biography, while showing signs of thorough research and movingly written in its description of the war years, fails to comprehend that a great writer can still be an unpleasant person.

Bethanne Patrick, sometimes known as The Book Maven, is a freelance critic and book blogger.