Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Dear members, we hope you’re all keeping cool and staying safe. If you know of any ways NBCC members can help writers, booksellers, librarians or anyone else affected by the pandemic, please let us know at In the meantime, here’s what our members have been working on this month—remember to send us links to your work so we can feature it in a future edition of Critical Notes!

Member Reviews and Essays

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians for The Washington Post.

Rien Fertel reviewed Adam Kucharski’s The Rules of Contagion for the A.V. Club. Rien also wrote about Lee Durkee’s The Last Taxi Driver and Mark O’Connell’s Notes from an Apocalypse for the A.V. Club‘s Best of 2020 (So Far).

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Sarah Taylor Stewart’s The Mountains Wild, Jeffrey B. Burton’s The Finders, Jennifer Hillier’s Little Secrets, and S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland for the Sun Sentinel. The reviews also ran in other publications.

Jenny Shank reviewed Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century by John Loughery and Blythe Randolph; the documentary Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story, directed by Martin Doblmeier; and Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo for Image.

Tobias Carroll wrote about artists and writers whose work is claimed by the left and the right alike for Literary Hub.

Drew Bratcher wrote about wasp stings and Wordsworth for the Paris Review.  

Lydia Pyne reviewed John Cage: A Mycological Foray, edited by Ananda Pellerin, for Glasstire.

Tom Beer wrote about literary homages at Kirkus.

Lanie Tankard reviewed The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer for The Woven Tale Press.

Christopher X. Shade reviewed Kevin Carey’s Set in Stone for The Brooklyn Rail.

Ann Fabian reviewed Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller for The National Book Review.

Member Interviews

Board member and Interabang Books owner Lori Feathers interviewed authors Amy Poeppel, Debra Jo Immergut, and Elliot Ackerman, as well as the publishers of Unnamed Press and Two Lines Press, for her store’s “Interabang Chats” series.

NBCC Emerging Critic Essence London wrote about Raven Leilani and her novel Luster for Publishers Weekly.

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed Ace Atkins on the tenth anniversary of his series about former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson for Mystery Scene magazine.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed author and acclaimed international piano virtuoso Stephen Hough about his book Rough Ideas for Music & Literature, and interviewed author Jeffrey Colvin on his novel Africaville for the Washington Independent Review of Books

Clifford Garstang interviewed David James Poissant about his new book, Lake Life, for the Southern Review of Books.

Member News, Etc.

Maya Smart has sold her first book, Reading for Our Lives: Why Early Literacy Matters and How to Achieve It, to Avery Publishing.

Jennifer Haupt is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Alone Together: Stories of Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19. Ninety authors contributed essays, poems, and interviews with Jennifer for this inquiry into how the pandemic has transformed us as individuals and a society. All profits will be donated to Binc, to aid bookstore owners and booksellers in need. Alone Together will be published on Sept. 1 by Central Avenue Publishing.

Erika Dreifus hosted the July 2020 Jewish Book Carnival. Erika notes, “When I volunteered to host for July 2020, I didn’t realize that I’d been participating ever since the Association of Jewish Libraries launched the project in July 2010 and that I’d be hosting the tenth birthday edition.” The Carnival is intended to serve as a forum where those who cover Jewish books online “can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts.”

Susan Kelly-DeWitt has a new book coming out this summer. Her poetry collection Gravitational Tug will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing in late August or early September.

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 of the The John Rylands Library Reading Room Enclave in Manchester, England, by Michael D. Beckwith via Flickr.