Critical Notes

Roundup: National Book Award Nominees, Renata Adler, Rebecca Skloot, more

By Mark Athitakis

With the National Book Award finalists announced last week, Salon’s Laura Miller argues that the awards have made themselves irrelevant.

Bookforum reports that Renata Adler’s 1976 novel Speedboat, which NBCC members named the book they’d most like to see back in print, is tentatively scheduled to be reissued by New York Review Books in 2013.

Rebecca Skloot’s next book will cover the “human-animal bond.”

David Haglund considers a new collection of essays by critic Dwight Macdonald and asks, “Is ‘middlebrow’ still an insult?” at Slate.

Carmela Ciuraru reviews Lloyd Jones’ novel Hand Me Down World for Newsday.

John Freeman reviews Julian Barnes’ Man Booker-nominated novel The Sense of an Ending for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Maureen Corrigan reviews Russell Banks’ novel Lost Memory of Skin for

Jordan Michael Smith reviews Jim Newton’s biography Eisenhower: The White House Years for the Christian Science Monitor.

Jim Carmin reviews Aravind Adiga’s Last Man in Tower for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Karen R. Long reviews Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Stephen Burt discusses Paul Muldoon’s poem “Incantata,” recently set to music by Poetry Scores.

Your reviews and recommendations help seed these roundups: If you’re an NBCC member with a review you’d like considered for inclusion, please email You can also get our attention by using the Twitter hashtag #nbcc, posting on the wall of our Facebook page, or joining our members-only LinkedIn group.