Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Member Reviews and Essays

Sarah Harrison Smith reviewed Hilary McKay’s The Time of Green Magic for The New York Times Book Review.

Tess Taylor reviewed Susan Howe’s Concordance for The New York Times Book Review.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed Warhol by Blake Gopnik for The New Republic.

In The Washington Post, John Domini reviewed the new collection of short stories from Laura van den Berg, I Hold a Wolf By the Ears, calling the book “the greatest distillation of her talent.” And in the Los Angeles Review of Books, John reviewed Blake Butler’s new novel, Alice Knott, which he called “a remarkable accomplishment.” 

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, reviewed Jeffrey Toobin’s True Crimes and Misdemeanors for The Washington Post.

Daneet Steffens reviewed Laura Lippman’s My Life as a Villainess for the Boston Globe.

Two of our members reviewed Isabel Wilkerson’s highly anticipated Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents: Hamilton Cain at the Star Tribune and Chris Barsanti at PopMatters.

Asa Drake reviewed Barbara Jane Reyes’ Letters to a Young Brown Girl for Entropy.

Ron Slate reviewed Passage to the Plaza by Sahar Khalifeh for On The Seawall.

Two of our members had busy weeks. First off, Tobias Carroll reviewed Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild for the New York Times Book Review and Adam Wilson’s Sensation Machines for He also took part in’s Hugo Awards nominee coverage, including his thoughts on a Ted Chiang novella and his thoughts on a Ted Chiang novelette as part of a roundup of Hugo finalists. Finally, his latest Watchlist column is up at Words Without Borders.

Also keeping busy was Oline H. Cogdill, who reviewed Never Ask Me by Jeff Abbott and Once You Go This Far by Kristen Lepionka for the Sun Sentinel. The reviews also ran in other publications. Oline also wrote a three-part series on virtual book tours for Mystery Scene magazine. The series consisted of an overview of virtual book tours, tips to make the tours pop, and a story on Noir at the Bar.

Anthony Domestico reviewed Radical Wordsworth by Jonathan Bate and The Dolphin Letters, edited by Saskia Hamilton, in a column for Commonweal.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed A Saint from Texas by Edmund White for Lone Star Literary.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Megha Majumdar’s A Burning for the June issue of BookPage and Rachel Beanland’s Florence Adler Swims Forever for the July issue of BookPage.

Member Interviews

Former board member Carolyn Kellogg interviewed Natasha Trethewey about her brilliant memoir Memorial Drive for Shondaland.

Dana Wilde interviewed Patricia Smith Ranzoni for The Working Waterfront newspaper in Maine.

Member News, Etc.

Former board member David Biespiel’s new book, A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas, has received pre-publication reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Jewish Week, Jewish Herald Voice and Publishers Weekly. David also recently published a new poem, “Men Waiting for a Train,” in The New Yorker

Richard Deming has a new book out about Orson Welles’s film Touch of Evil. The book is published as part of the British Film Institute’s Film Classics Series in conjunction with Bloomsbury.

Merrie Blocker is the translator of the earliest literary work to reflect the Brazilian Jewish story,  On a Clear April Morning, by Marcos Iolovitch, published June 2 by Academic Studies Press. This lyrical, drama-filled autobiographical novel depicts the experiences of an immigrant brought to Brazil by Baron Hirsch, who spent over $3 billion in today’s dollars settling Jews in North and South America.  

Photo by Stefano Corso via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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.