Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

Roundup: Jess Row, Martin Amis, Katha Pollitt, Daniel Mendelsohn & More

by Jane Ciabattari | Oct-19-2014

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2013 Balakian winner Katherine A. Powers reviews Eimear McBride's "A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing" for the Barnes and Noble Review.

NBCC award winner Daniel Mendelsohn ponders the question, "Do we read differently at different ages?" for the New York Times Book Review: "When I reread 'Catcher [in the Rye]' a few years ago, I found myself totally unmoved by the emotional ferocity that had enthralled me in 1974."

Before the announcement of the 2014 winner, Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North," Susanna Rustin argued in The Guardian against new rules making Americans eligible for the Man Booker Prize:  "The American century may be over but American music, films, TV, books and games are everywhere. American publishing already has, in the Pulitzers and National Book Critics Circle, internationally prestigious awards."

The National Book Critics Circle makes a cameo appearance in NBCC board member Ron Charles' essay on the proliferation of contests (and announcing a new $25,000 award funded by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent).

Meanwhile, Matthew Specktor mentions the NBCC's "bolder choices" in his evaluation of the "conservative"  National Book Award finalists.

In her books column on Dylan Thomas for BBC.com, Jane Ciabattari talks to NBCC award winning poet Philip Levine, who saw the Welsh poet read at Wayne State and twice at the 92nd Street Y: "“I had only seen pictures of him, the young Dylan Thomas in a turtleneck sweater with a lot of blond hair blowing in the wind," says Levine. "He comes out and he looks like a miniature WC Fields. Sort of round and very rumpled. He staggers out, gets up there and is in complete command. His voice was melodious and powerful and nothing was slurred.”

In Guernica,Grace Bello talks to Jess Row about coming of age in dichotomous Baltimore and being warned against writing about race in his new novel, "Your Face in Mine."   

Julia M. Klein reviews Bettina Stangneth's "Eichmann Before Jerusalem" for the Jewish Daily Forward. She also reviews Martin Amis's "The Zone of Interest" and Alan Cumming's memoir, "Not My Father's Son," for the Chicago Tribune. And she reviews Jake Halpern's "Bad Paper" for the Boston Globe.

Leanne Shapton, winner of the NBCC autobiography award, has published "Women in Clothes," co authored with Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits.

Princeton has acquired the papers of Toni Morrison, whose Song of Solomon won the NBCC fiction award in 1977, and who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Morrison taught in Princeton's Creative Writing program from 1989 to 2006, when she retired.

Dan Cryer reviews Edward O. Wilson's "The Meaning of Human Existence" for the Boston Globe: "...beneath Wilson’s calm and measured prose lies, in effect, a battle cry. His aim is to win the culture wars that progressive thinkers believed were won long ago."

Lisa Levy offers 7 things she learned talking over coffee with NBCC award winner Katha Pollitt about her new book, "Pro," for Bustle.

Harvey Freedenberg calls David Mitchell's "The Bone Clocks" "a frequently entertaining, if flawed, work," in his review for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He also reviews Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See" for Harrisburg Magazine.

Marion Winik reviews Bill Roorbach's 'The Remedy for Love' , Lena Dunham's "growing-up-weird essays" in "Not That Kind of Girl," and talks to Seinfeld writer Peter Mehlman about "It Won't Always Be This Great," his novel set on Long Island, all for Newsday.

Sarah Ruhl's play "Dear Elizabeth" is based on the thirty-year correspondence between NBCC poetry award winner Elizabeth Bishop and NBCC poetry award winner Robert Lowell, "who remain influential forces, especially among local poets,"  Jan Gardner notes in the Boston Globe.

Isabel Wilkerson talks to Boise State Public Radio about her 2010 NBCC nonfiction award winning book, "The Warmth of Other Suns" in advance of her Thursday, October 23, speaking engagement at the Idaho Humanities Council’s 18th Annual Distinguished Humanities Lecture and Dinner.

Michele Raffin is "on a mission" in her new book, "Birds of Pandemonium," points out Heller McAlpin in her NPR.org review.

Linda Simon calls out Hilary Mantel's quirkiness in her review of 'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,' the NBCC fiction award winner's short story collection, for the Kansas City Star: "The title story is the best: Margaret Thatcher has had an eye operation in a clinic in a quiet, shady neighborhood in Windsor where the narrator has a third-floor flat."

David Abrams reviews Christian Winans'  debut collection, "Naked Me," at his blog (The Quivering Pen).

Megan Labrise interviews NBCC fiction award winner  Jane Smiley and rogue taxidermist Robert Marbury for Kirkus Reivews.

Julie R. Enszer reviews Erika Meitner’s “Copia" for The Rumpus. 

Robert Birnbaum blogs about Paul Krassner, the "Prince of Gadflies," and his new booka about the Patty Hearst kidnapping and Dan White's Twinkie defense.

Ron Slate reviews Italo Calvino's final book of essays, "Collection of Sand."

David Cooper reviews Assaf Gavron's "The Hilltop" for the New York Journal of Books.

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