Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Dear friends, we hope you’re keeping cool and staying safe this summer! Our members have been busy reviewing books by authors such as Mary L. Trump, David Mitchell, Andrew Martin, Gail Caldwell and more. Check out their great work below, and as always, let us know if you have any reviews, interviews, or news to share!

Member Reviews

Heller McAlpin reviewed Gail Caldwell’s Bright Precious Thing for NPR.

Board member Colette Bancroft reviewed Sarah Gerard’s True Love and Mary L. Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough for the Tampa Bay Times.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, also tackled Mary Trump’s book at The Washington Post.

Daniel Mendelsohn reviewed David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue for The New York Times Book Review.

Former board member Carolyn Kellogg also reviewed Utopia Avenue for the Los Angeles Times.

Allan Graubard reviewed The Idea of Perfection: The Poetry and Prose of Paul Valéry; A Bilingual Edition by Paul Valéry, translated by Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jason Berry reviewed Susan Neiman’s Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil for the National Catholic Reporter.

Kevin O’Kelly reviewed Ravi Somaiya’s The Golden Thread for The Christian Science Monitor.

Claude Peck reviewed The Shadowgraph by James Cihlar in The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Clifford Garstang reviewed Rebecca Kauffman’s The House on Fripp Island for the Southern Review of Books.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Andrew Martin’s Cool for America for the Star Tribune.

Michael Adam Carroll reviewed Cockfight by María Fernanda Ampuero for Ploughshares.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Kim Llerena’s American Scrapbook for LensCulture and Paul Almasy’s Paris for Frames magazine.

K.L. Romo reviewed Dark August by Katie Tallo for The Big Thrill magazine, and The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott for BookTrib. She also published “Bibliotherapy in the Time of COVID-19,” her latest column for Washington Independent Review of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Arlene Heyman’s Artifact for The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Charles Green reviewed J. William Whitaker’s The Toll of Folly for Blueink Review.

Member Interviews

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub interviewed Adam Wilson about his new book, Sensation Machines, for InsideHook.

W. Scott Olsen’s podcast interview with Samatha Cooper, a photo editor at Wired magazine, appeared at Frames magazine.

Member News, Etc.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Jonathan Leal and South Texas music producer Charlie Vela’s new album, Futuro Conjunto, was reviewed by Pitchfork.

Patricia Laurence, author of a new biography, Elizabeth Bowen, A Literary Life, was featured in conversation with critics Kelly Sullivan and Emily Bloom.

Sandy McIntosh, an NBCC member and the publisher of Marsh Hawk Press, announced the publication of Where Did Poetry Come From by Geoffrey O’Brien, the first volume in Marsh Hawk’s series of books tied to its Chapter One: On Becoming a Poet project. The project features the memoirs of outstanding poets from diverse backgrounds, recalling the ways by which they found their start as writers. While creative writing programs seek to develop the talents of maturing writers, recondite but essential information about the development of the writing craft will be discovered in the early memoirs—the Chapter Ones—of established poets published in this series. Each month, the press publishes an original essay, eventually to be collected in an anthology.

Susan Henderson, a lifetime member of the NBCC, is the Fiction Judge for the 2020 High Plains Book Awards. She is also teaching a virtual workshop on “Staying Passionate and Confident with Your Novel-in-Progress” for Hampton Roads on September 19.

SEND US YOUR STUFF: NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to Be sure to include the link to your work.

Photo by Chase Elliott Clark via Flickr / CC BY 2.0.