Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Friends, we hope you’re having a good spring! Our members had a busy April, reviewing books by authors such as J. Nicole Jones, Rachel Kushner, Hoa Nguyen, Stacey Abrams, Federico Falco, and Rachel Cusk, and interviewing writers like John Edgar Wideman, Quan Barry, and Kirstin Valdez Quade. Stay safe, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Barbara J. King reviewed Abigail Tucker’s Mom Genes: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinctfor NPR.

Jim Schley reviewed Angela Patten’s The Oriole and the Ovenbird for Seven Days.

Bill Thompson reviewed J. Nicole Jones’ Low Countryfor The Post and Courier.

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli reviewed Rachel Kushner’s The Hard Crowdfor Alta.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship Heather Scott Partington reviewed Courtney Zoffness’ Spilt Milkfor the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jeanne Ferris reviewed Bradley Munoa’s documentary The Mountain That Weepsfor News From Native California magazine.

Eric Liebetrau wrote about three vital new books on Native life and history for Kirkus Reviews.

NBCC board member Rebecca Morgan Frank reviewed Hoa Nguyen’s A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasurefor On the Seawall.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Federico Falco’s A Perfect Cemetery, translated by Jennifer Croft, for On the Seawall, and Chloe Angyal’s Turning Pointefor The Boston Globe.

Anthony Domestico wrote a column about two books by James Longenbach and a new poetry collection by Mark Wunderlich for Commonweal.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams and Find You First by Linwood Barclay for the Sun Sentinel and other publications, and Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone for Shelf Awareness.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Rachel Cusk’s Second Placefor The Boston Globe and Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Treefor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Rena Rossner’s The Light of the Midnight Stars for, wrote a column on April books in translation for Words Without Borders, and wrote about Iain Sinclair and walking in cities for Literary Hub.

Paul Wilner reviewed Michael McClure’s posthumous collection, Mule Kick Blues and Last Poems, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Robert Allen Papinchak wrote a joint review of Jenny Minton Quigley’s Lolita in the Afterlife:  On Beauty, Risk, and Reckoning with the Most Indelible and Shocking Novel of the Twentieth Century and Robert Alter’s Nabokov and the Real World: Between Appreciation and Defense for On the Seawall

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed Ben Philippe’s Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bumpfor the Toronto Star.

Judith Reveal reviewed several books, including Jake Tapper’s The Devil May Dance and Eva Gates’ Deadly Ever After, for the New York Journal of Books.

Clea Simon reviewed Karl Stevens’ Penny for The Arts Fuse.

Dana Wilde reviewed former Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum’s new book, things seemed to be breaking, in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine newspapers.

Member Interviews

Elias Rodriques interviewed John Edgar Wideman for The Nation.

Natalia Holtzman interviewed Esther Amini about her book Concealed: Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America for Kirkus Reviews.

Tobias Carroll interviewed Quan Barry and Henry Hoke for Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Paula Woods interviewed Soho Press Senior Vice President Juliet Grames about Kaoru Takamura’s Lady Joker for the Los Angeles Times.

In her Literary Hub column, NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari spoke with NBCC John Leonard Prize winner and first-time novelist Kirstin Valdez Quade about literary community and writing about intergenerational trauma, and to first-time novelist Jamie Figueroa about writing during COVID times: “I have continued to write during this time. It reminds me of what I was taught nearly twenty years ago by Natalie Goldberg: ‘Don’t get tossed away. Make positive effort for the good. Continue under all circumstances.’ It feels like muscle memory at this point.” 

Paul Wilner interviewed Ethel Rohan about her new short story collection, In The Event of Contact, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Joan Silverman interviewed Elizabeth McCracken for The National Book Review.

Sebastian Stockman has begun an interview series in his newsletter, A Saturday Letter. It’s called “How Do You Finish a Book?” and it kicks off with novelist Marc Fitten (Valeria’s Last Stand, Elza’s Kitchen), followed by memoirist Ellen O’Connell Whittet (What You Become in Flight).

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed MWA Grand Masters Charlaine Harris and Jeffery Deaver and Ellery Queen honoree Reagan Arthur for the MWA and Left Bank Books in St. Louis, and Charles and Caroline Todd for the Broward Public Library Foundation’s Book With Brunch.

Member News, Etc.

Joan Gelfand has two poems featured in Fog and Light: San Francisco Through the Eyes of Poets Who Live Here, published on April 2 by Blue Light Press. The anthology includes work by Jack Hirschman, Alejandro Murguia, Barbara Quick, Tom Centolella and many other San Francisco poets. A reading will take place on Zoom on May 7. Additionally, Blue Light publisher Diane Frank nominated Joan’s contribution “The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics” for a Pushcart Prize.

Partner News

NBCC publication member Rain Taxi is hosting a virtual event with Olivia Laing, a finalist for the 2016 NBCC Award in Criticism and author of the new Everybody: A Book About Freedom, on Wednesday, May 5, at 1:00 pm Central. You can get tickets to this event, which include a signed copy of Everybody, here

Photo by Anthony Jauneaud via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0.