Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

We hope you all had a fun and safe holiday! This week, our members contributed reviews of books by Nicholson Baker, Emma Cline, Elena Ferrante, Deesha Philyaw, Kerri Arsenault, Laura Lippman and much more, as well as interviews with authors like Eula Biss, Vanessa Veselka, and Yaa Gyasi. Remember to send links to your published work to, and enjoy the last days of summer!

Member Reviews and Essays

Mark Athitakis reviewed Nicholson Baker’s Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act for The Washington Post.

NBCC Emerging Critic Miranda Cooper reviewed Adam Ehrlich Sachs’ The Organs of Sense for the Jewish Book Council.

Michael Bobelian reviewed Rick Perlstein’s Reaganland for The Washington Post.

Elias Rodriques reviewed Andy Horowitz’s Katrina: A History, 1915-2015 for Bookforum.

Board member Marion Winik has been busy, reviewing Emma Cline’s Daddy, Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults, and Mary Morris’ All the Way to the Tigers for The Washington Post; Rachel Cohen’s The Austen Years for The Philadelphia Inquirer; and Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend, Caroline Leavitt’s With or Without You, and Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies for the Star Tribune.

Jenny Shank reviewed Phuc Tran’s Sigh, Gone for America and Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults for the Star Tribune.

For the October issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, Hamilton Cain covered new books by NBCC member Kerri Arsenault, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Yaa Gyasi, Les and Tamara Payne, David S. Reynolds, and Ali Smith.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman, He Started It by Samantha Downing, Lone Jack Trail by Owen Laukkanen, The Missing American by Kwei Quartey, and Without Sanction by Don Bentley for the Sun Sentinel; the reviews also ran in other publications.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed The Bishop’s Bedroom by Piero Chiara and Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering Colorado and the Four Corners of the Southwest.

Charles Green reviewed Brandon Taylor’s Real Life for The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Daniel Dyer wrote about the work of Arthur Phillips for the Cleveland Review of Books.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Gloria Goldreich’s The Paris Children for the New York Journal of Books.

Sarah Johnson reviewed Darin Strauss’ The Queen of Tuesday and Gail Godwin’s Old Lovegood Girls for the Historical Novels Review.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Pavlina R. Tcherneva’s The Case for a Job Guarantee for strategy+business.

J. Peder Zane wrote about finally reading Don Quixote at The Top Ten.

Laura Sandonato reviewed Jenny O’Dell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy for Picking Books.

Gayle Feldman wrote about books that deal with the book business for the New York Society Library website.

Member Interviews

Rochelle Spencer interviewed the Afrofuturist healers Arthur Flowers, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Kelechi Ubozoh on past, present, and future healing for TriQuarterly. They healed everything, she says. Rochelle was also one of six people to pose questions to Boots Riley, Opal Moore, Kyla Marshell, and Jeffery Renard Allen in a roundtable on AfroSurrealism for Apogee.

NBCC board member Megan Labrise interviewed Eula Biss about Having and Being Had for Kirkus’ Fully Booked podcast.

NBCC board member and Interabang Books owner Lori Feathers interviewed Vanessa Veselka about her new novel, The Great Offshore Grounds, and Transcendent Kingdom author Yaa Gyasi for Interabang Books’ “Chats” series.

Jennie Hann, an NBCC Emerging Critic in 2018-2019, spoke with Johns Hopkins English professor and literary critic Andrew H. Miller about his new book, On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives, for the Baltimore Fishbowl.

Clifford Garstang was interviewed by Lisa Haselton about his latest book, House of the Ancients and Other Stories.

Susan Terris interviewed Mary Mackey about her poetry and poetics in the literary magazine Dichtung Yammer.

Member News, Etc.

Rochelle Spencer was nominated for Fiyah‘s Ignyte Award; she says she feels deserving. (And she is.)

Jennifer Howard’s new book, Clutter: An Untidy History, was published on Sept. 1 by Belt Publishing. Kirkus Reviews called it “a keen-eyed assessment of one of society’s secret shames and its little-understood consequences,” and The New York Times Book Review featured it in their Aug. 30 “New & Noteworthy” column.

Photo of Powell’s Books by Thomas Hawk via Flickr / CC BY-NC 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.