Critical Notes

Roundup: Francisco Goldman’s “Say Her Name” and more

By Mark Athitakis

A host of critics are enthusing about Say Her Name, a novel by Francisco Goldman that tests the boundaries between fiction and memoir. In the Washington Post, Roxana Robinson writes that “Grief is the engine here, and Goldman tells his story with longing and regret.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Karen L. Long calls it “harrowing and often splendid reading.” “I’ve rarely read a more affecting or damaging book,” writes the Quarterly Conversation’s Jeff Waxman. At, Phoebe Connelly writes that its “power of description lulls you into forgetting that you're reading a tragedy.” Sounding a contrarian note, the New York TimesDwight Garner writes that Say Her Name is “a moving but blurry book that is the result of a puzzling aesthetic decision.”

The Guardian has revamped its books site for better searchability and more input from readers.

The Poetry Foundation has updated its website as well, now making available the contents of Poetry magazine dating back to 1912.

The literary website Full Stop launches a series featuring young critics with an interview with Bookslut’s Michael Schaub.

Kevin Prufer is interviewed at Devil’s Lake about his new poetry collection, In a Beautiful Country.

Christopher Hitchens discusses his NBCC autobiography finalist, Hitch-22, his relationship with Gore Vidal, and more with the Telegraph.

Todd Gitlin reviews Marjorie Garber’s The Use and Abuse of Literature in the New Republic.

Lynne Tillman, an NBCC fiction finalist, discusses her work in an interview with Lydia Davis.

Joseph Peschel reviews E.L. Doctorow’s new short story collection, All the Time in the World, for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Zadie Smith, a NBCC fiction finalist, lost her battle to save a London library from closure last week.

Jane Ciabattari reviews Madison Smartt Bell’s The Color of Night for the Daily Beast; Tod Goldberg reviews the novel for the Los Angeles Times.

Benjamin Schwarz, a Balakian winner, revisits James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce.

Paul Devlin reviews Ishmael Reed’s new novel, Juice!, for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Public Affairs Books founder Peter Osnos considers how the book-publishing industry has changed since he entered it in 1984. And Roger Ebert considers whether anybody wants to be “well read” anymore, and revisits some of his favorite authors.

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