Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By David Varno

Photo from window of snow on street with books inside

Dear NBCC Friends,

Hope those of you in the northeast are enjoying the snow day. Today’s entertainment: throwing snowballs for the dog to chase. By the time we host our awards ceremony, it will probably feel like spring. Can’t wait!

In the Spotlight

One of the big novels this month is Rebecca Makkai’s fifth book, I Have Some Questions for You (Viking). And for good reason; not only does it pull off a clever mix of hot-button subjects but it tells a good story. It’s also got great ’90s jokes, including a cringe moment involving a drunken bro belting a Melissa Etheridge song. Balakian winner Kady Waldman raved about it for the New Yorker; former NBCC board member Ron Charles outlined the many ways it transcends the prep school novel for the Washington Post; and Hamilton Cain, writing for the New York Times, called it “whip-smart, uncompromising and (mostly) a pleasure to read.”


Heller McAlpin reviewed Will Schwalbe’s We Should Not be Friends for NPR.

For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Kathleen Rooney reviewed Adam Zagajewski’s last book True Life.

For the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books, Rebecca Morgan Frank reviewed Mary-Alice Daniel’s Mass for Shut-Ins, Ray Gonzalez’s Suggest Paradise, Carlie Hoffman’s When There was Light, and Sarah Audsley’s Landlock X.

For the Forward, Julia M. Klein reviewed Nina Siegal’s The Diary Keepers.

Tara K. Menon covered the 2022 Booker Prize shortlist for The Sewanee Review.

Nicole Graev Lipson reviewed the anthology Wanting: Women Writing About Desire, edited by Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters for the Chicago Review of Books.

For the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books, Sylee Gore reviewed Hannah Sullivan’s Was It For This, Sophie Klahr’s Two Open Doors in a Field, Meret Oppenheim’s The Loveliest Vowel, and Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s Quiet.

For the Duluth News Tribune, Jay Gabler reviewed Larry Jorgenson’s new book Shipwrecked and Rescued: Cars and Crew.

Joan Silverman reviewed Mainer Tracy Kidder’s Rough Sleepers for the Portland Press Herald.

For Kirkus, Eric Liebetrau wrote about two books that address athlete activism: Shaun M. Anderson’s The Black Athlete Revolt: The Sport Justice Movement in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter and Kendrick Perkins’ The Education of Kendrick Perkins: A Memoir.

Bill Thompson reviewed Andy Borowitz’s Profiles in Ignorance for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Tom Peebles reviewed Martha Jones’ Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All for tomsbooks.

Tobias Caroll wrote about four February books for Words Without Borders.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Andrew McCarten’s Going Zero and John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro’s Doomed: Sacco and Vanzetti and the End of the American Dream for BookTrib.


Dan Kois profiled Sheila Liming, author of Hanging Out, for Slate.

Martha Anne Toll spoke with Jai Chakrabarti for The Millions and Erica Berry for LitHub.

For The Millions, Ian MacAllen spoke with Tim Blake Nelson about his debut novel City of Blows.

Tobias Caroll talked to John Hendrickson about his memoir Life on Delay and Julian E. Zelizer and Kevin M. Kruse about their anthology Myth America for InsideHook.

Board member Lori Feathers and Sam Jordinson spoke with author Stephen May about his latest novel Sell Us the Rope for the Across the Pond podcast.

For Write-Minded, Grant Faulkner talked to Peter Ho Davies on the art of revision and Ana Reyes on her recently released thriller The House in the Pines.

For Elle, Costa Pappas spoke with Patricia Field about her memoir, Pat in the City.

Jay Gabler talked to Marie Myong-Ok Lee, author of the 1992 young adult novel Finding My Voice, for the Duluth News Tribune.

For Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Tobias Caroll spoke with Paul Tremblay about having his work adapted for film.

RJ Heller reviewed Susan Hand Shetterly’s Notes on the Landscape of Home and Marilyn Moss Rockefeller’s Mountain Girl: From Barefoot to Boardroom for Maine Reads.

Member News

At AWP, NBCC member S.L. Winseberg will be signing her fourth book The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home, winner of the Juniper Prize in creative nonfiction, on Friday, March 10, at the University of Massachusetts Press Table. Details here.

Jenny Shank will be moderating an AWP Panel titled “Writing the Real West: Diverse, Urban, and Contemporary” on Saturday, March 11, 9:00am-10:15am. Click here for details.

In Salon, Susan Shapiro wrote a eulogy honoring Stanley Mieses, former books editor at the New York Post, who died this month at age 70.

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Photo by Cottonbro Studio