Critical Notes

New reviews and more from the NBCC

By Michael Schaub

Our members have had yet another busy week, publishing dozens of reviews and interviews, appearing at virtual book fairs, and, in one case, promising to recreate the Breakfast Club dance if an indie bookstore in Chicago raises enough money for its fundraiser. (More on that at the end of this email.) We hope you’re all using your time in quarantine to tackle your to-be-read piles. Or looking at your to-be-read piles and then binge-ordering a bunch of new books from your local indie. Either way’s fine. We won’t judge. As always, thanks for your support, and stay safe!

Member Reviews

Barbara J. King reviewed Carl Safina’s Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace and David Allen Sibley’s What It’s Like to Be a Bird for NPR, and Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft’s Meat Planet: Artificial Flesh and the Future of Food for the TLS.

Sebastian Stockman reviewed Mark O’Connell’s Notes From an Apocalypse for The Boston Globe.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Friend by Paek Nam-nyong, translated by Immanuel Kim, for the Star Tribune.

Elias Rodriques reviewed Imani Perry’s Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry for The Nation.

Anita Felicelli wrote about Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida’s That Hair for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Drew Bratcher wrote about Montaigne’s “Of Experience,” an essay about “how to live when life comes under attack,” for The Paris Review.  

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Mark Doty’s What Is the Grass for NPR.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife for the Star Tribune and Rishi Reddi’s Passage West for the Los Angeles Times.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Lulu Miller’s Why Fish Don’t Exist for The Wall Street Journal, and wrote an essay on the avian photography of Barcelona-based Xavi Bou for the Od Review.

Ron Slate reviewed Nicolas Mathieu’s Goncourt Prize-winning novel And Their Children After Them for On The Seawall.

Olga Zilberbourg reviewed Klotsvog by Margarita Khemlin, translated from the Russian by Lisa C. Hayden, for The Common.

Dean Rader reviewed “Frank O’Hara: Lunchtime Poet,” a new gallery at the revamped MoMA, for the Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, and a new poem of his about the current pandemic appeared recently in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Hadley Freeman’s House of Glass for Forward.

Curt Schleier reviewed Jason B. Rosenthal’s My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me for the Star Tribune.

Jenny Shank reviewed Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo for America. Jenny has also been posting video reviews of books as part of the online programming for the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, where she’s on the faculty. Check out her reviews of Children of the Land, Kawai Strong Washburn’s Sharks in the Time of Saviors, and Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Emily Gould’s Perfect Tunes and Szczepan Twardoch’s The King of Warsaw for the New York Journal of Books.

Brian Haman reviewed Yan Lianke’s Three Brothers: Memories of My Family for the Asian Review of Books.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Elaine Viets’ A Star Is Dead for the Sun Sentinel and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Hid From Our Eyes and Amy Engel’s The Familiar Dark for the Associated Press.

Allen Adams reviewed Conor Knighton’s Leave Only Footprints, David Moloney’s Barker House, Emily Gould’s Perfect Tunes, Stephen King’s If It Bleeds and Hao Jingfang’s Vagabonds for The Maine Edge.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Erin L. Kelly and Phyllis Moen’s Overload for strategy+business.

Beth Kanell reviewed Paul Vidich’s The Coldest Warrior for the New York Journal of Books.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Things You Would Know If You Grew Up Around Here by Nancy Wayson Dinan for Lone Star Literary Life.

Member Interviews

At Literary Hub, board member Lori Feathers interviewed Nino Haratischvili about her family saga set in 20th-century Soviet Georgia, The Eighth Life.

Elaine Szewczyk interviewed hip-hop maven Sophia Chang, who managed members of the Wu-Tang Clan, for Publishers Weekly about her memoir The Baddest Bitch in the Room (out in September).

Poet Tess Taylor, a former NBCC board member, is featured in Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari‘s Literary Hub/Book Marks column, recommending five books about writing place in a time of crisis

John Kazanjian interviewed David Leo Rice about his novel Angel House for the Heavy Feather Review.

Member News, Etc.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s new collection of stories, Known By Heart, will be published May 1 by Apprentice House Press of Loyola University.

NBCC President Laurie Hertzel interviewed NBCC board member Charles Finch about his latest novel, The Last Passenger, at the (virtual) Loft Wordplay festival. You can watch the video here.

Speaking of Charles Finch, he’s one of 28 writers who have pledged to recreate the famous dance scene from The Breakfast Club if Volumes bookstore in Chicago raises $60,000 for its fundraiser. We cannot adequately stress how much this needs to happen. If you’re interested in helping save a bookstore, and see our board member dance to Karla DeVito’s underrated classic “We Are Not Alone,” which you should be, please donate here.

NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari co-hosted a virtual Flash Fiction Collective reading for San Francisco literary festival Litquake (on lockdown). You can watch the video here

Constance Grady has started a book club and a book advice column at Vox.

Donna Miscolta contributed an essay to McSweeney’s “A Force Outside of Myself” series.

Photo of The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles by Omar Bárcena via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0.