Critical Notes

NBCC Roundup, July 14, 2010

By Bethanne Patrick

Ron Charles reviews What Is Left the Daughter, by Howard Norman:

An award-winning translator who teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park, Norman offers a kind of rough-hewn poetry throughout, starting with that Yoda-like title, “What Is Left the Daughter.”


Welcome PWxyz, Craig Morgan Teicher’s new Publishers Weekly blog:

What is PWxyz? It's a place to find late-breaking news on the book business, as well as other stuff that falls between the cracks of our other print and online coverage. You'll be hearing from staffers from all of PW's departments–news, reviews, and children's books. Follow us on Twitter: @PWxyz


Carmela Cuiraru on Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Had the novel focused only on this imaginative food conceit, it would have been merely clever – but Bender is too good a writer for that. She uses Rose's secret burden as a means of exploring the painful limits of empathy, the perils of loneliness, and Rose's deeply dysfunctional family.


Anis Shivani’s interview with Thieves of Manhattan author Adam Langer:

Shivani: As far as I know, you don't teach writing. Thank you for that. And if you do teach, I take it back.

Langer: You are oh so welcome. I always loved writing, so I never wanted to take a class in it and ruin the magic of it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, universities would rather not hire people to teach subjects they never really studied. If you want to present yourself as a great writing teacher, you have to have the talents of a great professional con artist, and I'm still learning that craft.


Julia M. Klein, in Obit Magazine, on Robert K. Elder's Last Words of the Executed

There is not just humor, but also humanity stripped down to its essence in Robert K. Elder’s powerful new compendium, Last Words of the Executed (University of Chicago Press). Those who are about to die salute life. They send love to friends and family, express fervent faith in an afterlife, request absolution from those they have injured, and sometimes insist on their innocence. (Some may even be telling the truth.)


An appreciation of Harvey Pekar by David Ulin in the Los Angeles Times:

Here’s a phrase you don’t often hear in regard to Harvey Pekar: role model. And yet, it seems an apt description of the iconoclastic comics genius, who was found dead early Monday at age 70 in his Cleveland Heights, Ohio, home. Think about it — a longtime VA hospital file clerk with no ability to draw, Pekar essentially reinvented himself, in his 30s, as the creator of “American Splendor,” perhaps the greatest of all the underground comics. It is difficult to imagine the subsequent history of the form without its influence.

Bethanne Patrick is a freelance critic and book blogger.