Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

“Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem

Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;

It’s comforting to look up from this roof

And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,

To recollect that in antiquity

The winter solstice fell in Capricorn

And that, in the Orion Nebula,

From swirling gas, new stars are being born.”

—Timothy Steele, “Toward the Winter Solstice”

Dear NBCC members and friends, we’d like to thank you for helping make the National Book Critics Circle a better organization this year. From all of us on the board, we hope you have a happy holiday season. Stay warm, stay safe, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Ruben Quesada reviewed six books by Latinx poets for the Harvard Review.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Michael Bible’s The Ancient Hours for The New York Times Book Review and Alex Ross’s Wagnerism for the Star Tribune. Hamilton also wrote an essay, “My Three Smiths: Reading in a Plague Year,” for Chapter 16.

Andre Bagoo wrote about the enduring impact of Dylan Thomas on Caribbean literature in the latest issue of The Poetry Review.

Rachael Nevins wrote a critical essay on Red Pill by Hari Kunzru for the Ploughshares blog.

John Domini reviewed Scholastique Mukasonga’s Igifu for The Brooklyn Rail.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, reviewed Leslie Brody’s Sometimes You Have to Lie and three books about Covid-19 for The Washington Post.

NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik’s “Six Book Critics Walk Into a Zoom to Talk About Autofiction: A Totally Fictional Story by Marion Winik Featuring a Martin Amis Cameo” was published in Literary Hub. Marion also reviewed Susie Yang’s White Ivy and Shirley Hazzard’s Collected Stories for the Star Tribune

Wayne Catan wrote about Paul Celan for On the Seawall, reviewing Memory Rose Into Threshold Speech, translated by Pierre Joris, and Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan by Jean Daive, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop.

Christoph Irmscher wrote the cover review for The Wall Street Journal books section, Dec. 19-20, of Michael Strevens’ The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science.

He also published “On Anita Ekman’s Ochre” in The Od Review, an essay (in both English and Portuguese) about the Brazilian photographer and performance artist Anita Ekman.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Nicholas A. Christakis’s Apollo’s Arrow for The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Juliet Schor’s After the Gig for strategy+business.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed The Piano Student by Lea Singer, translated by Elisabeth Lauffer, for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Joseph Peschel reviewed Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest for The Brooklyn Rail.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Rachel Joyce’s novel Miss Benson’s Beetle for BookPage.

Dana Wilde reviewed Cummiskey Alley: New and Selected Lowell Poems by Tom Sexton

in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine newspapers.

Helen Mitsios reviewed Georgian Jewellery by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings for Wonderlust.

Member Interviews

Clifford Garstang and Terese Svoboda interviewed each other for The Literary Review.

Member News, Etc.

NBCC Vice President/Membership Richard Z. Santos’ novel Trust Me was named one of the Best Debut Novels of 2020 by CrimeReads.

Carlos Lozada’s book, What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era, was named one of the Best Books of 2020 by Fortune and one of the 12 Best Books by Latino Writers of 2020 by NBC. Carlos was interviewed about his book by Vox and the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast.

David W. Brown’s new book, The Mission, or: How a Disciple of Carl Sagan, an Ex-Motocross Racer, a Texas Tea Party Congressman, the World’s Worst Typewriter Saleswoman, California Mountain People, and an Anonymous NASA Functionary Went to War with Mars, Survived an Insurgency at Saturn, Traded Blows with Washington, and Stole a Ride on an Alabama Moon Rocket to Send a Space Robot to Jupiter in Search of the Second Garden of Eden at the Bottom of an Alien Ocean Inside of an Ice World Called Europa (A True Story), will be published by Custom House on Jan. 26. The book has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.

Sarah McCraw Crow was interviewed about her novel The Wrong Kind of Woman for the books podcast Thoughts from a Page.

Judith Reveal of Just Creative Writing and Indexing Services just published her latest book, Crossroads, with KDP. This follows her republication of The Writer’s Bloc, the first in her Lindsey Gale mystery series. Both books are available on Amazon.

Photo of the Harper Memorial Library at the University of Chicago by Justin Kern via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.