Steve Nathans-Kelly

Steve Nathans-Kelly is a freelance writer, editor, and video producer. While editing a succession of technology trade magazines over the last quarter-century in Boston, Madison, Wisconsin, and Ithaca, New York, he has maintained a second career of sorts writing about literary fiction and narrative history for sites such as Paste magazine, First of the Month, and VirtualIreland.com, as well as his own blog, FirstLookBooksBlog.com. This work has afforded him opportunities for wide-ranging interviews with the likes of Richard Russo, John Edgar Wideman, Francine Prose, and Dennis Lehane.

Book Reviews by Steve Nathans-Kelly

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“Just as Hammett made imagined crime feel real, McAlpine makes metafiction mischief suffused with meaning; from the masterful Hammett Unwritten, to the too-wonderful-not-to-mention

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“Historian Paul Matzko’s well-researched and often terrifically entertaining new book, The Radio Right, provides a compelling, convincing, and closely observed

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The Sword and the Shield delivers both strong storytelling and exemplary history, dismantling popular distortions of its subjects, and arriving at a nuanced and profoundly reveali

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The Last Negroes at Harvard is an accomplished work of collective autobiography that tells a compelling story of incipient transformation in a transformative time—but in a place s

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“Written by counterterrorism expert and former RAND political scientist William Rosenau, Tonight We Bombed the U.S.

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“David Zucchino cuts through a century of propaganda, myth, and big white lies to unmask the stunning history of the Wilmington coup, its origins in the political climate of the era, and it

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“Sterling Watson’s new novel, The Committee, transmutes Lavender Scare investigators’ ruthless assaults on suspected homosexuals in 1950s Gainesville into heart-racing fiction that

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The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2 delivers more than its share of amusing and revelatory anecdotal glories, while still adhering to its mission statement of identifying ess

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“Shattering epiphanies about old bandmates aside, Time Is Tight is, most emphatically, not a book about settling old scores.

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“Nicholas Buccola’s captivating new book, The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr.

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“Most compelling is Cloutier’s overarching purpose: to explore the deliberate, cautious, and sometimes frustrating ways Claude McKay and three roughly contemporary African American novelist

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“Nell Zink’s new book, Doxology, may prove both the consummate post-punk post-9/11 novel, and a bracing addition to the noisy Lower East Side literary canon that dates back to Henr

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Barnum: An American Life, an engaging, insightful, and richly researched new biography by American Scholar editor Robert Wilson, chronic

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Chances Are . . .

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“Battle for the Marble Palace, Michael Bobelian’s superbly written and brilliantly contextualized history of Lyndon Johnson’s failed nomination of his close friend

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In West Mills powerfully pays homage to the defiant and affirming spirit of Their Eyes Were Watching God while imagining a vivid and compelling world with distinctive cha

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“In The Guarded Gate, Okrent shows tremendous insight but also tremendous restraint, letting the alarming rise of racist eugenics unfold in its own time, and painstakingly document

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“David Maraniss digs deep into his father’s 1952 blacklisting and emerges with a riveting account of what disloyalty charges did to families in the McCarthy era, a profound meditation on wh

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Perhaps most rewardingly and unexpectedly, Working is a book about what makes great writing: 'Rhythm matters. Mood matters. Sense of place matters.

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Hold Fast Your Crown thrives on Haenel’s buoyant prose, which remains unabashedly overstuffed and declamatory, pell-mell and poetic, throughout a weird and winding tale.”

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Englander finds fascinating ways to explore another of his great recurring themes: the points at which modernity and tradition may fruitfully, if uncomfortably—and always

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“With her two Walter Mosley-like gifts—impeccable narrative pacing and masterful command of Los Angeles’ intricate, evolving dynamics of race and class—Nina Revoyr’s L.A.

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Peter Rock does dazzling things with meta-crypto-autobiography in The Night Swimmers, playfully commingling curation and creation, and wrestling with a writer’s c

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“In The End of the Myth, Greg Grandin reaches devastating conclusions about America’s current trajectory.

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“In documenting this country’s fateful journey from slavery through thwarted Reconstruction to segregation, Luxenberg paints on a broad canvas, elegantly narrating several captivating and s

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“The Cassandra, with its multiple parallels to the original story, might be the truest twist on the Cassandra myth ever attempted—and certainly the most relevant t

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“Though too untethered to a timeline to comprise a traditional rise-and-fall saga, American Pop delivers a wondrously mosaic-like, multigenerational chronicle of a family that buil

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“Without institutionalized American racism, Withers would never have become involved with racial espionage. But he still would have been a great photographer.”

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“For such an unabashedly polemical first novel, The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill works surprising well, due in large measure to the unremitting intensity of Charlesworth’s wri

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“Port establishes Leo Fender’s unique perspective on the world of electric noise he helped create, as he innovated and borrowed and cobbled his way to the world’s first production-model sol

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“In brisk, vigorous, precise prose honed over decades of daily newspaper work, Gilliam paints a vivid portrait of the obstacles she faced as a black woman breaking multiple barriers in the

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“Like The Thirteenth Tale, Once Upon a River is very much a story about the spellbinding power of storytelling, and the stories troubled people tell themselves and each other to ma

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“A Map of Days reveals Ransom Riggs at the peak of his powers, leaving loyal fans ravenous for more.”

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In “The Accidental Rebel,” an op-ed published in The New York Times on the 40th anniversary of the Columbia student uprising of 1968, novelist Paul Auster (Columbia ’69) asserted that stud

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“Mosley’s new book, John Woman, though it only intermittently delivers the tautly rendered violence and suspense of his detective fiction, is as provocative and morally instructive

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“Bealport is often uproariously and corrosively funny.”

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“an unsettling resonance that more triumphantly framed survivor stories rarely achieve.”