Annal: 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1999.

Book:Selected Non-Fictions

Selected Non-Fictions

Jorge Luis Borges

This unique volume presents a Borges almost entirely unknown to American readers: his extraordinary non-fiction prose. Borges’ unlimited curiosity and almost superhuman erudition become, in his essays, reviews, lectures, and political and cultural notes, a vortex for seemingly the entire universe: Dante and Ellery Queen; Shakespeare and the Kabbalah; the history of angels and the history of the tango; the Buddha, Bette Davis, and the Dionne Quints.

Book:Black Planet

Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season

David Shields

The National Basketball Association is a place where, without ever acknowledging it, white fans and black players enact and quietly explode virtually every racial issue and tension in the culture at large. In Black Planet, David Shields explores how, in a predominantly black sport, white fans—including especially himself—think about and talk about black heroes, black scapegoats, black bodies.

During the 1994-95 NBA season, Shields went to the Seattle SuperSonics’ home games; watched their away games on TV; listened to interviews and call-in shows; talked, or tried to talk, to players, coaches, and agents; attended charity events; corresponded with members of the Sonics newsgroup on the Web. He kept a journal and over the next few years transformed that journal into this book, which is focused sharply on white spectators’ relationship to black athletes, in particular Shields’ own identification…[more]

Book:Film Follies

Film Follies: The Cinema Out of Order

Stuart Klawans

Film Follies is about the greatest films that never should have been made. Stuart Klawans proposes that, as well as the auteurist film: where a director, operating within the studio system manages to an individual stamp on an assembly-line product. And, as well as the independent film, where the director, operating with a minimal budget and crew, can defy the conventions of generic filmmaking, there is a third, generally overlooked type of production, large, unwieldy, almost always a disaster at the box office, but fascinating to watch and consider. These are the follies, productions by filmmakers who, in the ambitious pursuit of a thoroughly idiosyncratic vision, somehow get their hands on the full resources of a studio.

Book:Lives of the Poets

Lives of the Poets

Michael Schmidt

In this stunning volume of epic breadth, Michael Schmidt connects the lives and works of more than 300 poets over the last 700 years—spanning distant shores from Scotland to Australia to the Caribbean, all sharing the English language.

Schmidt reveals how each poet has transformed “a common language of poetry” into the rustic rhythms and elegiac ballads, love sonnets, and experimental postmodern verse that make up our lyrical canon.

A comprehensive guided tour that is lively and always accessible, Lives of the Poets illuminates our most transcendent literary tradition.

Book:Reputations of the Tongue

Reputations of the Tongue: On Poets and Poetry

William Logan

William Logan has been called the most dangerous poetry critic since Randall Jarrell. A critic of intensity and savage wit, he is the most irritating and strong-minded reviewer of contemporary poetry we have. A survey of American, British, and Irish poetry in the eighties and early nineties, Reputations of the Tongue is a book of poetry criticism more honest than any since Jarrell’s Poetry and the Age.

The book opens with an essay arguing with Eliot over tradition and individual talent; it closes with a close scrutiny of contemporary British and Irish poetry. At the heart of the book are long essays on W. H. Auden, W. D. Snodgrass, Donald Justice, and Geoffrey Hill—and the reviews of major and minor contemporary poets that have earned Logan his reputation.

Appearing in publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, Poetry, Parnassus, and…[more]

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