Critical Notes

New Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Jennie Hann

Photo of reading chair

Greetings, NBCC Friends,

We hope you had a fabulous long weekend. Here’s to the start of fall, a great season for books—and, of course, book reviews!! Read on for what our freelancers have been up to lately . . .

Meanwhile, remember that our annual general membership meeting will take place virtually on Thursday, September 22 at 5 p.m. Pacific. Here’s the Zoom link and a provisional agenda.

In the Spotlight

NBCC Balakian winner Katy Waldman reviewed Jonathan Escoffery’s debut collection, If I Survive You, for the New Yorker. Waldman calls the book “ravishing,” and describes how one of the stories “stomps on the delicate vessel of the trauma plot.” Cory Oldweileradded to the chorus of praise for the book in his review for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Member Reviews/Essays

For Alta’s California Book Club newsletter, NBCC board member Anita Felicelliwrote about Julie Otsuka’s The Swimmers, the club’s pick for September. NBCC VP/Online David Varno also contributed an essay on The Swimmers for the series. 

Hillary Kelly wrote about Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol, andAlice Sedgwick Wohl’s As It Turns Out for The New Yorker’s “Page-Turner” section.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait for The Boston Globe.

Heather Hewett reviewed Brandi Moran’s Our Voice of Fire: A Memoir of a Warrior Rising for LIBER: A Feminist Review.

Paul Wilner rounded up the fall literary season’s offerings for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Terese Svoboda reviewed Eleanor Wilner’s Gone to Earth: Early and Uncollected Poems, 1963-1976 for The Common.

Clea Simon reviewed Tess Gunty’s The Rabbit Hutch for The Boston Globe.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Afterlives for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King and Round Up the Usual Peacocks by Donna Andrews for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. She also reviewed Do No Harm by Robert Pobi and Hokuloa Road by Elizabeth Hand for Shelf Awareness.

Dana Wilde reviewed Wesley McNair’s Late Wonders: New and Selected Poems in his “Off Radar” column for the Central Maine Newspapers.

Nell Beram reviewed S.E. Boyd’s The Lemon; W. David Marx’s Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change; and Ellen McGarrahan’s Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, a Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice, all for Shelf Awareness.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Vanda by Marion Brunet, translated from the French by Katherine Gregor, for his “Murder Ink” column in the Durango Telegraph.

Charles Green reviewed Jeremy Denk’s Every Good Boy Does Fine: A Love Story, in Music Lessons for The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Shelley Burr’s Wake, a quirky Australian noir, for BookTrib.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed The Complete Eightball by Daniel Clowes for The Brooklyn Rail.

For Alta Journal, Jim Ruland wrote about going to International Pynchon Week in Vancouver to find out why Inherent Vice is so divisive for critics.

For The National Book Review, Kylie Gellatly surveyed booksellers around the U.S. to find out what they have been recommending in their stores. She also reviewed Amanda Larson’s poetry collection, Gut, for RHINO Poetry’s graphic reviews issue.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed the photobook Crossed Looks by Namsa Leuba for Frames Magazine. He also wrote a column on paused reading for the “Bookmarks” series in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Bill Thompson reviewed Escape into Meaning by Evan Puschak for ThePost and Courier of Charleston, SC.

Jack Sullivan reviewed John Schneider’s Harry Partch 42, an account of the early years of a visionary American composer, for the American Record Guide’s books section.

Member Interviews

NBCC board member Mandana Chaffa interviewed Marisa Siegel about her debut chapbook, Fixed Stars, for BOMB Magazine.

For her Lit Hub column, NBCC VP/Events Jane Ciabattari talked to Sidik Fofana about crafting distinctive literary voices in his first collection, Stories from the Tenants Downstairs.

Terese Svoboda interviewed Jennifer Egan as part of the Victoria Festival of Authors.

Joyce Sáenz Harris interviewed C.W. Smith about his new novel, Girl Flees Circus, for The Dallas Morning News.

Kathleen Rooney interviewed graphic novelist Nick Drnaso about his third book, Acting Class, for Chicago Magazine.

Nicole Graev Lipson interviewed E.B. Bartels, author of Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter, for the Chicago Review of Books.

For their “Book Cougars” podcast, Chris Wolak and her co-host, Emily Fine, interviewed Shelley Puhak about The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World.

Member News

Martha Anne Toll’s novel Three Muses (forthcoming on September 20, 2022) was featured in Pointe Magazine and The Washington Post.

Betsy Groban has been appointed book reviews editor of JASNA News, the quarterly newsletter of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Munich Massacre (September 5-6, 1972), Moment magazine republished “Homecomings,” a short story by Erika Dreifus.

Two essays by Terese Svoboda, “Where It Starts, Where It Ends” and “Cougar,” appeared in the Catapult anthologies Wanting: Women Writing About Desire and House on Fire, respectively.

Partner News

Alta will be hosting their monthly California Book Club on Zoom on Friday,September 16, at 5 p.m. Pacific featuring novelist Julie Otsuka and CBC host John Freeman in conversation with special guest Michael Cunningham. Click here to register. Note that joining the club is free and even includes four custom-designed bookplates!!

“Untitled Shoot 005” photo by NBCC member W. Scott Olsen. Used with permission.

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