31 Books in 30 Days: Michael Schaub on Jane Leavy’s ‘The Big Fella’


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In the 31 Books in 30 Days series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists.  Today, NBCC board member Michael Schaub offers an appreciation of biography finalist Jane Leavy's The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created (Harper).

George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. "wasn't a baseball player," argued the broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. "He was a worldwide celebrity, an international star, the likes of which baseball has never seen since." Since then, the sport has featured its share of celebrities, from Hammerin' Hank to A-Rod, but the Bambino still remains the brightest star in the baseball firmament.

Jane Leavy's fascinating new biography of Ruth, The Big Fella, follows Ruth and his Murderer's Row teammate Lou Gehrig as the two Yankees went on a barnstorming tour across the country. The reader ...

Critical Notes: AWP, NBCC Membership meeting March 14, Marlon James & ‘Bowlaway’


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NBCC News

SAVE THE DATE: This year's annual National Book Critics Circle membership meeting will be on Thursday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to noon at The New School. That's the day of the awards ceremony. All members are welcome. Membership meeting at 10 a.m., with coffee and bagels provided. At 11, we'll have a panel titled  "The Stephen King Solution; Could It Work Elsewhere?" moderated by Carlin Romano. The membership meeting ends at noon, and the board begins awards consideration and voting at 12:30.

Join us also for the Finalists' reading on Wednesday, March 13, also at the New School, the awards ceremony on March 14, and the gala awards after-party, celebrating books and our finalists. Tickets $50 for members in advance.

The 31 Books in 30 Days series begins week 2 today. Read it here.

SAVE THE DATE: The National ...

31 Books in 30 Days: David Varno on Denis Johnson’s ‘The Largesse of the Sea Maiden’


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In the 31 Books in 30 Days series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists. Today, NBCC board member David Varno offers an appreciation of fiction finalist Denis Johnson’s The Largesse of the Sea Maiden (Random House).

In They’ll Love Me when I’m Dead, a documentary about Orson Welles’ unfinished, posthumously-released film The Other Side of the Wind, Peter Bogdanovich paraphrases Welles to suggest that his compulsion to continue working often shaped the themes of his projects: “No story has a happy ending unless you stop telling it before it’s over.”

The stories by the late, great Denis Johnson are often unhappy, but they leave off with a trace of hope, an aftertaste of promise that refuses to turn bitter. In Johnson’s immortal collection Jesus’ Son, a man called ...

31 Books in 30 Days: Katherine A. Powers on Craig Brown’s ‘Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret


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In this 31 Books in 30 Days series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists.  Today, NBCC board member Katherine A. Powers offers an appreciation of biography finalist Craig Brown's Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

In Craig Brown, Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret (the address she insisted upon) has found a biographer whose sensibilities, wit, and satirical gifts are perfectly suited to conveying her plight as a prisoner of privilege and birth, her fantastical public image, and her out-sized awfulness. Her friends and admirers were outnumbered by the hundreds who knew her but wished they didn’t.  She alternated wildly between bon homie and hauteur; one minute informal, the next insisting on rigorous protocol, usually when she was drunk—which was often. Alcohol, Brown notes wryly, seemed to release her ...

31 Books in 30 Days: Marion Winik on Lawrence Wright’s ‘God Save Texas’


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In this 31 Books in 30 Days series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists.  Today, NBCC treasurer Marion Winik offers an appreciation of nonfiction finalist Lawrence Wright’s God Save Texas  (Alfred A. Knopf).

In 1976, I went to Texas for spring break with a college friend, visiting her parents in Dallas and her friends at UT Austin. I was immediately and completely enchanted. Like the t-shirt says, I got back there as soon as I could, and stayed until the end of the century. For me, the publication of Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright's new work of narrative nonfiction, God Save Texas, comes as a godsend. I can finally stop trying to explain to people what is so great about Texas — I can just hand them this book. Which does not shy ...

NBCC Reads: Rebecca Foster on Pamela Paul’s ‘My Life with Bob’


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What are your favorite books about books? Why are these books such a ferocious pleasure? Maybe it's their range: books on books can combine memoir and criticism (see Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch' or Janet Malcolm's 'Reading Chekhov'), history and sociology (Alberto Manguel's 'A History of Reading'), humor, travelogue, astute observation, and who knows what else (Elif Batuman's 'The Possessed'). Tell us about your favorite for the latest installment of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees  and is curated by Alan Cheuse Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman. (The series dates back to 2007; you can explore the archive here.) Submissions can be 500 words or fewer and should go to nbcccritics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

What could be better than a bibliomemoir? As a bibliophile I’m irresistibly drawn to books about books, but as a critic I often find them unsatisfying. ...

31 Books in 30 Days: Anjali Enjeti on Erika Meitner’s ‘Holy Moly Carry Me’


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In this 31 Books in 30 Days series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists.  Today, NBCC VP/Membership Anjali Enjeti offers her appraisal of poetry finalist Erika Meitner’s 'Holy Moly Carry Me' (BOA Editions).

Erika Meitner’s thrilling Holy Moly Carry Me, the author’s fifth collection of poetry, possesses both a searing vulnerability and a vibrant musicality. Here are brutal images of violence intertwined with the resplendent purple mountain ranges of Appalachia. Here are the precious nuggets of motherhood and domesticity woven with anxieties about safety and security. Here, in this evocative and cruel world innocence dissolves, and in its wake, leaves a grim reality.

Isolation, infertility, genocide, poverty and the looming threat of gun violence haunt this radiant collection. Meitner acutely explores her identity as a Jewish mother raising one white son ...

31 Books in 30 Days: Marion Winik on Nicole Chung’s ‘All You Can Ever Know’


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In this 31 Books in 30 Days series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists. Today, NBCC treasurer Marion Winik offers an appreciation of autobiography finalist Nicole Chung's All You Can Ever Know (Catapult).

 

Born two months premature to a Korean couple who decided to give her up for adoption, Nicole Chung was raised by white parents in a nearly all-white small town in Oregon. Though her adoring parents told her that love was colorblind and race wasn't important, cruel classmates made sure she knew otherwise. But her attempts to learn more about her origins didn't get very far. Her biological parents gave her up so she could have a better life, her mother explained; unfortunately, she said, that is "all you can ever know." One of the highlights of her ...

31 Books in 30 Days: Victoria Chang on Diane Seuss’s ‘Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl’


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In this 31 Books in 30 Days series series leading up to the March 14, 2019 announcement of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award winners, NBCC board members review the thirty-one finalists. Today, NBCC board member Victoria Chang offers her appreciation of poetry finalist Diane Seuss’s Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks (Graywolf Press).

While I am an avid fan and user of social media and love how it’s opened up the literary world, particularly the poetry world, in all sorts of ways, one of my secret fears is that poets will begin to sound like other poets because we now have access to poems and poetry at a more rapid speed as poems get shared and can go rapidly viral. 

Diane Seuss’s fourth book of poems, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, completely allays my fears because it’s utterly original.  Seuss’s book uses ...

Critical Notes: Black History Month, Kaleidoscopic Portraits of Girls of Color, and Dreyer’s English


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NBCC board member and Newsday books editor Tom Beer wrote about books to read during Black History Month.

Rochelle Spencer reported on "The Oakland Renaissance: A Roundtable of Afro-Futurist Luminaries," a roundtable featuring thoughts from Ishmael Reed, Raina J. León, Jeneé Darden, and five other Afrofuturist writers, for The Millions. "The Right to Feel," Rochelle Spencer's review of Ivelisse Rodriguez's Love War Stories and Camille Acker's Training School for Negro Girls was published in the Women's Review of Books.

Mike Lindgren reviewed Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style for On the Seawall.

VP/Online Jane Ciabattari's BBC Culture column for February includes an early novel by NBCC fiction award winner Roberto Bolaño.

Treasurer Marion Winik reviewed The Water Cure, by Sophie Mackintosh, in Newsday, as well as The Falconer, by Dana Czapnik and The Martin Chronicles, by John Fried.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Robert H. Mnookin's The ...

NBCC Reads: Jenny Bhatt on Azar Nafisi’s ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’


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What are your favorite books about books? Why are these books such a ferocious pleasure? Maybe it's their range: books on books can combine memoir and criticism (see Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch' or Janet Malcolm's 'Reading Chekhov'), history and sociology (Alberto Manguel's 'A History of Reading'), humor, travelogue, astute observation, and who knows what else (Elif Batuman's 'The Possessed'). Tell us about your favorite for the latest installment of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees  and is curated by Alan Cheuse Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman. (The series dates back to 2007; you can explore the archive here.) Submissions can be 500 words or fewer and should go to nbcccritics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

In early-2014, the bibliomemoir genre went through some sort of revival with three new books in quick succession: Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch'; Wendy Lesser's ...

In midwinter, everybody is reading


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But first! The NBCC finalists announcement got some lovely coverage

The Washington Independent Review of Books

Hillel Italie's Associated Press report ran in newspapers from Seattle to Washington.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Shelf Awareness

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Lunch

Vulture

New York Times

Forward

Tampa Bay
 

 

Reviews, essays and interviews

NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Theodor Kallifatides' memoir "Another Life" for On the Seawall and Sam Lipsyte's novel "Hark" for the Los Angeles Times.

NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel reviewed "Inheritance" by Dani Shapiro for the Star Tribune. She also wrote her weekly Bookmark column about the end of book reviews at the Dallas Morning News--and the salvation of reviews at the Portland Press Herald. She also wrote about the 100+ authors who will be coming to Minneapolis for the new book festival, Wordplay, in May.

Former NBCC board member and Balakian winner Ron Charles posted an episode of ...

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR 2018 AWARDS


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New York, NY (January 22, 2019)—Today the NBCC announced its 31 finalists in six categories––autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry––for the outstanding books of 2018. Of note: There are six finalists instead of five this year in autobiography, proving a strong year in the category. Also notable this year, the writer Terrance Hayes is a finalist in two categories for two separate books (in poetry for American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin and in criticism for To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight). Hayes has been a finalist in poetry twice before, for Lighthead (2010) and How to Be Drawn (2015). The winners of three additional prizes (The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, The John Leonard Prize and Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing) were also announced. The National Book Critics Circle ...

NBCC Reads: J. Howard Rosier on Edmund Wilson’s ‘Axel’s Castle’


This post is by Jane Ciabattari from Critical Mass


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What are your favorite books about books? Why are these books such a ferocious pleasure? Maybe it's their range: books on books can combine memoir and criticism (see Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch' or Janet Malcolm's 'Reading Chekhov'), history and sociology (Alberto Manguel's 'A History of Reading'), humor, travelogue, astute observation, and who knows what else (Elif Batuman's 'The Possessed'). Tell us about your favorite for the latest installment of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees  and is curated by Alan Cheuse Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman. (The series dates back to 2007; you can explore the archive here.) Submissions can be 500 words or fewer and should go to nbcccritics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

From advocating for more inclusive discussions, to letting a reader know whether or not a book is worth the money, criticism has a multitude of functions. ...

Critical Notes: Hideo Yokoyama, Glory Edim, Heather MacDonald, and More…


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NBCC NEWS:

The deadline for #NBCCLeonard voters is January 14, 6 pm EST. Don't forget to vote!

Check out our latest #NBCCReads series, Favorite Books about Books, curated by Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman.

REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS:

Tara Cheesman reviews Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama for the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Geography of Rebels Trilogy by Maria Gabriela Llansol for The Triquarterly Conversation.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviews Anthony Horowitz's James Bond novel, Forever and a Day for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Michelle Lancaster reviews The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander for Lone Star Literary Life.

Ron Slate reviews An Untouched House, a novella by Willem Frederik Hermans, translated by David Colmer for On The Seawall.

Paul Wilner interviews Peter Nathaniel Malae about his new novel, Son of Amity for ZYZZYVA.

NBCC board member Tom Beer previews new books in, "New Books to Look Forward to in 2019" in ...

NBCC Reads: Brendan Driscoll on Colm Tóibín’s ‘On Elizabeth Bishop’


This post is by Jane Ciabattari from Critical Mass


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What are your favorite books about books? Why are these books such a ferocious pleasure? Maybe it's their range: books on books can combine memoir and criticism (see Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch' or Janet Malcolm's 'Reading Chekhov'), history and sociology (Alberto Manguel's 'A History of Reading'), humor, travelogue, astute observation, and who knows what else (Elif Batuman's 'The Possessed'). Tell us about your favorite for the latest installment of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees  and is curated by Alan Cheuse Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman. (The series dates back to 2007; you can explore the archive here.) Submissions can be 500 words or fewer and should go to nbcccritics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The key to understanding Elizabeth Bishop, suggests Tóibín, is to understand her conflicted relationship with words. 

A talented poet, Bishop understood that words, like ...

Critical Notes: 2019 Reading + the Five-Year Anniversary of #ReadWomen


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NBCC News

National Book Critics Circle board elections results announced today! Here are the eight candidates elected.

Reviews & Interviews

NBCC board member Michael Schaub on Didion, Patterson, and more "Secrets of the Book Critics."

NBCC VP/Membership Anjali Enjeti reviewed Amy Meng's "Bridled," Duy Doan's "We Play a Game," and Jenny Xie's "Eye Level" for the Georgia Review.

NBCC VP/Online Jane Ciabattari recommends 2019 books for her BBC Culture column, including NBCC Sandrof and fiction award winner Toni Morrison's essay collection and new novels by  NBCC finalist Colson Whitehead and Sandrof winner Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

NBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers contributed an essay to The Millions “My Year in Reading” series. She also reviewed Meghan Dowling’s A Catalogue of Small Pains,  Anna Burke’s YA fantasy, Thorn, S. W. Leicher’s Acts of Assumption, Reema Zaman’s memoir, I Am Yours, and Kim McLarin’s essay collection, Womanish for Foreword Reviews Women’s Issues special ...

Results of this Year’s NBCC Board Elections


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Here, in alphabetical order, are the eight candidates (of 27) who garnered the most votes in this year's board elections. Congratulations to all the candidates who stepped forward, and to the eight who join the NBCC board in March 2019.

 

Laurie Hertzel

Carolyn Kellogg

Carlin Romano

Michasl Schaub

Madeleine Schwartz

David Varno

Hope Wabuke

Marion Winik


 

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Results of this Year’s NBCC Board Elections

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NBCC Reads:  Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers on Helen Vendler’s ‘Poets Thinking’


This post is by Jane Ciabattari from Critical Mass


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What are your favorite books about books? Why are these books such a ferocious pleasure? Maybe it's their range: books on books can combine memoir and criticism (see Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch' or Janet Malcolm's 'Reading Chekhov'), history and sociology (Alberto Manguel's 'A History of Reading'), humor, travelogue, astute observation, and who knows what else (Elif Batuman's 'The Possessed'). Tell us about your favorite for the latest installment of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees  and is curated by Alan Cheuse Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman. (The series dates back to 2007; you can explore the archive here.) Submissions can be 500 words or fewer and should go to nbcccritics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Any poet who’s written a bio statement, introduced themselves at a party, or been offered less pay for their work than a prose compatriot is familiar ...

NBCC Reads: Jonathan Leal on Italo Calvino’s ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’


This post is by Jane Ciabattari from Critical Mass


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What are your favorite books about books? Why are these books such a ferocious pleasure? Maybe it's their range: books on books can combine memoir and criticism (see Rebecca Mead's 'My Life in Middlemarch' or Janet Malcolm's 'Reading Chekhov'), history and sociology (Alberto Manguel's 'A History of Reading'), humor, travelogue, astute observation, and who knows what else (Elif Batuman's 'The Possessed'). Tell us about your favorite for the latest installment of the NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees  and is curated by Alan Cheuse Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman. (The series dates back to 2007; you can explore the archive here.) Submissions can be 500 words or fewer and should go to nbcccritics@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Just now, a colleague has asked you to recommend a favorite book about books for a new web series. 

Breaking away from your computer, ...