“A funeral is no place for secrets.”
No post on this site has drawn more visitors – and, dare I say, enthusiasm? – than my Nov. 16 review mentioning my discovery that Mitch Albom is writing at a third-grade level in For One More Day (Hyperion). I made that discovery because the novel struck me as so dumbed-down – even for Albom – that it fell below the level of the sixth-grade books I once edited for a test-prep company. So I typed a couple of paragraphs from the book into my computer and ran the Microsoft Word spelling and grammar checker, which gives you the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Statistics at the bottom. Albom, it showed, writes at the level of Grade 2.8. This was startling enough that I wondered if the paragraphs I had used, from page 24, were atypical. So I typed in the full text of pages 24 and 25 and found that they were atypical. Albom actually writes at a third-grade level, Grade 3.4, according to Flesch-Kincaid. What can a critic say after this? Perhaps only that inside Albom, there’s a children’s author who is struggling to get out and, in this book, did.
“A funeral is no place for secrets.” This kind of pseudoprofundity is a hallmark of Albom’s writing. At no time do secrets have a more respected – and needed — place than at funerals. Would any of us want someone to reveal our darkest secrets at our funeral? Funerals are perhaps the only occasion on which it is universally acknowledged that – however much we value the “truth” – common decency requires us to withhold it to avoid causing pain to mourners. Even the gangsters on The Sopranos had the wit to try to comfort Tony at Livia Soprano’s funeral with the cliché, “At least she didn’t suffer.”
The original review of For One More Day is archived in the “Novels” category on this site and includes the grade levels of the writing by many others, including Stephen King, Nora Ephron, and Jesus. To read the review click on this link www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/11/16/.
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.