All Must Have Prizes — and Reviews

In last week’s post here about the winners of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, we unintentionally neglected to link to our previously published review of the winner for Criticism: Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays by Eula Bliss.

In May of last year, Tess Taylor had this to say about Bliss’s unique and varied collection of short pieces:

Her essays travel multiple, not always parallel forms of history — personal and public trails that range from the history of telephone poles to coal mining towns to Laura Ingalls Wilder to public education. While her topics are heavy, she spins each essay gamely, with punning wit. The result: skeins that shimmer with metaphor, that pose and circle questions rather than trying to resolve them. “It isn’t easy to accept a slaveholder and an Indian killer as a grandfather, and it isn’t easy to accept the legacy a of whiteness as an identity,” she writes in an essay where she acknowledges that she can see “two faces of the Brooklyn clock tower” — and two faces of this question itself. “Perhaps it would be better if we simply refused to be white. But I don’t know what that means, really.”

You can read the whole review here.

-JAMES MUSTICH