Critical Notes

Reviews and More from NBCC Members

By Chelsea Leu

Shelf of old books with tattered spines

Dear NBCC Friends,

Greetings! Hope everyone’s weathering this most busy time for the book world. Meanwhile, the reviews output is keeping apace. Here’s a recap on what our members have been up to.  

In the Spotlight

Elizabeth McCracken’s The Hero of This Book is a vivid portrait of the author’s late mother, told in part through a grieving narrator on a trip to London. It’s a roving work that toes the line between fiction and memoir. In the Minneapolis Star TribuneJenny Shank argues that the novel “follows a plot that the bereaved know well,” while Heller McAlpin, who reviewed the book for NPR, quotes McCracken’s witty reflections on writing: “I don’t think writing is that hard, as long as you’re comfortable with failure on every single level.”

Member Reviews and Essays
Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a recipient of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Orhan Pamuk’s Nights of Plague in the Los Angeles Times.

Michael Sims reviewed David Quammen’s Breathless, a book about “the science of SARS-CoV-2,” for the New York Times.

Carol Iaciofano Aucoinreviewed Laurie Lico Albanese’s historical novel Hester for WBUR’s Arts & Culture

Daneet Steffensreviewed Kate Atkinson’s Shrines of Gaiety for the Boston Globe.

Hamilton Cainreviewed Neil Baldwin’s biography Martha Graham for the Wall Street Journal. 

Julia M. Kleinreviewed Robert Pinsky’s Jersey Breaks for the Boston Globe and Max Fisher’s The Chaos Machine for Johns Hopkins Magazine.

In KirkusEric Liebetraurecommends two forthcoming essay collections, Peter Orner’s Still No Word from You and Anna Badkhen’s Bright Unbearable Reality.  
Former NBCC Emerging Critic Zack Graham has a spooky short story, “The Love of Joey’s Life,” in this month’s Brooklyn Rail
Nichole LeFebvre’s essay “The Beginning of Memory” has been published in the new issue of Fourth Genre, and her short story “The Mouse and the Elephant” appeared in Southeast Review.
W. Scott Olsen reviewed David Ondaatje’s Water Views: Rivers, Lakes, Oceans and Ed Hotchkiss’s Station to Station: Exploring the New York Subway for Frames magazine. 

Oline H. Cogdillreviewed Raquel V. Reyes’s Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking by Zac Bissonnette’s A Killing in Costumes, as well as Allen Eskens’s Forsaken Country for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. She also reviewed Treasure State by C.J. Box and Fenian Street by Anne Emery for Shelf Awareness.

Nell Beram reviewed Carell Augustus’s Black Hollywood,Jonathan Coe’s Mr. Wilder and Me, and Hua Hsu’s Stay True, all for Shelf Awareness.

David R. Altmanreviewed John Pruitt’s Tell It True for the Pickens County Progress.

Martha Anne Tollwrote about the lessons she learned while writing her debut novel Three Muses for Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Member Interviews
Former NBCC board member Tom Beerinterviewed Celeste Ng about her new novel, Our Missing Hearts, for Kirkus Reviews.

Paul Wilnerinterviewed Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner about his new memoir, Like A Rolling Stone, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Jim Schleyinterviewed 2022 Pulitzer Prize co-winner and 2021 National Book Award finalist Nicole Eustace for Seven Days.

W. Scott Olsen interviewed Liron Gertsman and Bjorn Nilsson for the Frames magazine podcast. 

Member News
The new anthology Love in the Time of Time’s Up, edited by Christine Sneed, features short stories by NBCC members Jenny ShankGina Frangello and Joan Frank and NBCC board member May-lee Chai.

Parul Kapur Hinzen‘s debut novel, Inside the Mirror, about twin sister artists in 1950s Bombay, has won the 2022 AWP Prize for the Novel, judged by Brandon Hobson, and will be published next year by the University of Nebraska Press.

Grace Schulman’s new book Again, the Dawn: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2021 will appear on November 15 from Turtle Point Press. 

Partner News
Our partner Rain Taxi is holding a free virtual event on October 11 with Andrea Davis Pinkney as part of their lead-up to the Twin Cities Book Festival.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood