Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

We hope you’re all doing as well as can be after the events of last week. Please stay safe and stay hopeful as we navigate the difficult days ahead. This week, our critics have reviews of books by Robert Jones Jr., Michael Farris Smith, Aaron Gwyn, Peter Ho Davies, Nicci French and more. As always, thanks so much for reading.

Member Reviews/Essays

NBCC lifetime member Heller McAlpin reviewed two pleasurable distractions to kick off what we all hope will be a happier new year: Eley Williams’s The Liar’s Dictionary for NPR and Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time for The Christian Science Monitor.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed Why We Drive by Matthew Crawford and Ghost Road by Anthony Townsend for the TLS.

Washington Post book critic Ron Charles posted a Totally Hip Video Book Review of Nick by Michael Farris Smith.

Naomi Jackson reviewed Robert Jones Jr.’s The Prophets for The Washington Post, and Anita Felicelli reviewed Jones’ book for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Aaron Gwyn’s All God’s Children for the Southern Review of Books.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Daniel Lieberman’s Exercised for the Star Tribune, and Barbara J. King reviewed the book for NPR.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Peter Ho Davies’ novel A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself for USA Today, and Michael Farris Smith’s prequel to The Great Gatsby, Nick, for the Los Angeles Times.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed House of Correction by Nicci French for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed A Stranger at the Door by Jason Pinter and Watch Her by Edwin Hill for the Sun Sentinel and other publications.

Tara Cheesman wrote about noir and the South Korean writer Hye-young Pyun’s The Law of Lines for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Charles Green reviewed Megha Majumdar’s A Burning for The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Lanie Tankard reviewed The Last Days of Ellis Island by Gaëlle Josse, translated by Natasha Lehrer, for On the Seawall.

Ron Slate commented on Pilar Quintana’s novel The Bitch, Mark Hage’s photos in Capital, and Grace Schulman’s The Marble Bed at On The Seawall.

On her My Machberet blog, Erika Dreifus has compiled a list of 18 new Jewish books on her radar for the first half of 2021.

Diane Scharper‘s review of David S. Brown’s The Last American Aristocrat: The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams appeared in the Dec 31, 2020, issue of the Washington Examiner.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Jonathan Lichtenstein’s The Berlin Shadow for the Forward.

Sheila McClear reviewed Jamie K McCallum’s Worked Over: How Round-the-Clock Work is Killing the American Dream for The Washington Post.

Daniel Schwartz reviewed Mark Taylor’s Seeing Silence for On the Seawall.

Member Interviews

Former NBCC President Tom Beer interviewed Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby, for Kirkus Reviews.

Clifford Garstang and Nandini Bhattacharya interviewed each other at The Critical Flame.

Jacob Cline spoke to composer John Luther Adams about his new memoir, Silences So Deep: Music, Solitude, Alaska, for Sierra Magazine’s January/February issue.

Photo of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., by Pierre Blaché via Flickr / CC0 1.0.