Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

“I hear people talking about going on a vacation or something and I think, what is that about? I have no desire to go on a trip. My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.”

—Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023), winner of the 1992 NBCC Award for Fiction

Member Reviews/Essays

Carl Hoffman reviewed Will Grant’s The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-Mile Horseback Journey into the Old West for The Washington Post

Kitty Kelley reviewed Robert R. Garnett’s Taking Things Hard: The Trials of F. Scott Fitzgeraldfor the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Kate Knibbs reviewed John Vaillant’s new book, Fire Weather—which turned out to be unexpectedly relevant—for Wired.

Grace Talusan reviewed Nathan Go’s Forgiving Imelda Marcos for The Arts Fuse.

Joyce Sáenz Harris reviewed Julia Heaberlin’s Night Will Find Youfor The Dallas Morning News.

NBCC board Member Mandana Chaffa reviewed Owlish, written by Dorothy Tse and translated by Natascha Bruce, for the Chicago Review of Books.

Joan Frank reviewed Michael Mewshaw’s My Man in Antibes: Getting to Know Graham Greene for The Washington Post and Jane Smiley’s The Questions That Matter Most for The Boston Globe.

Diane Scharper reviewed The Postcard by Ann Berest for the Washington Examiner.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Michael Hofmann’s translation of Jenny Erpenbeck’s Kairos for The Boston Globe, and Derek Owusu’s That Reminds Me for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Martha Anne Toll wrote about Czech writer Martin Vopěnka’s The Back of Beyond for the Alan Cheuse Center, and reviewed New Yorker dance critic Jennifer Homans’ biography about George Balanchine, Mr. B—a finalist for the NBCC Award for Biography—for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Kristen Martin reviewed Sarah Viren’s To Name the Bigger Lie for NPR.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Stay This Day and Night With Me by Belén Gopegui, translated from Spanish by Mark Schafer, as the June Indie selection for The Woven Tale Press.

Daphne Kalotay wrote about Daphne du Maurier and her story “Monte Verità” for Public Books

For The Red Hook Star-Revue, Michael Quinn reviewed Mel Brooks: Disobedient Jew by Jeremy Dauber.

Alexander Pyles reviewed Noreen Masud’s A Flat Placefor the Chicago Review of Books.

Steph Opitz wrote a summer round-up of 5 fiction and 5 nonfiction titles for The Saturday Evening Post

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Zara Raheem’s The Retreat, Jonathan Freeland’s The Escape Artist, and M Hendrix’s The Chaperonefor BookTrib.

Bill Thompson reviewed Randall Sullivan’s Graveyard of the Pacific: Shipwreck and Survival on America’s Deadliest Waterway for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier.

Frank Freeman reviewed Bill Eville’s Washed Ashore: Family, Fatherhood, and Finding Home on Martha’s Vineyard for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Laura Villareal reviewed Sweet Beast by Gabriella R. Tallmadge for Poetry Northwest.

Nell Beram reviewed four books for Shelf Awareness: 1964: Eyes of the Storm by Paul McCartney; Beyond This Harbor: Adventurous Tales of the Heart by Rose Styron; My Murder by Katie Williams; and The Mythmakers by Keziah Weir.

Tom Peebles reviewed Philippe Sands’ The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain’s Colonial Legacy on the American University of Paris’ Tocqueville 21 website and on his personal blog.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Lauren Rankin’s history of clinic defenders, Bodies on the Line, for The Brooklyn Rail.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Paul Goldberg’s The Dissident for the Forward.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Keziah Weir’s The Mythmakersfor the Portland Press Herald.

Jim Swearingen reviewed Gregory May’s A Madman’s Will: John Randolph, 400 Slaves, and the Mirage of Freedomfor The National Book Review.

Member Interviews

Amelia Ada recently started a podcast called You Shouldn’t Let Poets Lie To You with the poet Alexandria Hall, with some funding from the University of Southern California’s Consortium for Gender, Sexuality, Race and Public Culture. They interview poets about once or twice a month, asking them questions about their work and also about a random topic of interest. It’s available anywhere you get your podcasts. For their first episode, they interviewed Austen Leah Rose, author of Once, This Forest Belonged to a Storm, and for episode 2, they spoke with Diannely Antigua, author of Ugly Music and the forthcoming Good Monster

Celia McGee profiled Rose Styron and her new memoir in The New York Times.

Grant Faulkner’s podcast, Write-minded, celebrated its 250th episode with an interview with Nicole Chung.

For Literary Hub, NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari talked with Danielle Trussoni about her new novel, The Puzzle Master, and Will Short and other puzzle masters.

Kathleen Rooney had a conversation with Christine Sneed about her new story collection, Direct Sunlight, for The Brooklyn Rail.

Ryan Asmussen interviewed Patrick Mackie about his new book, Mozart in Motion: His Work and His World in Pieces, for the Chicago Review of Books.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed writer Michelle Brafman about her new novel, Swimming Lessons, for Bloom.

For their Across the Pond podcast, former board member Lori Feathers and her co-host Sam Jordison talked to Isabella Hammad on her sophomore novel, Enter Ghost, about Palestinian actors set to perform a stage production of Hamlet in the West Bank.

Meredith Maran talked to Christine Pride and Jo Piazza for the Los Angeles Times.

Elizabeth Tucker’s essay on Tom Mustill’s How to Speak Whale, which also includes reference to Ed Yong’s An Immense World, was recently published in On the Seawall.

Member News

NBCC member Jack Rockwell just became editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Exchanges: A Journal of Literary Translation, a journal edited by MFA students in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa. He’s hoping to start regularly publishing reviews of forthcoming book-length literary translations into English (of fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction) and is looking for reviewers for recently published or forthcoming titles. Reach out to him at, and check out our editor spreadsheet for more information.

Suzanne Rhodenbaugh published a poetry collection, The Girl Who Quit at Leviticus, with Homestead Lighthouse Press.

Photo by Duncan Cumming via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0