A few words about the also-rans whose writing didn’t qualify as “the year’s worst in books”
By Janice Harayda
Why didn’t some books make the short list for the 2007 Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books? Here are two also-rans and explanations for why they didn’t become finalists, with the dates of their original reviews in parentheses.
Thirteen Moons. By Charles Frazier. Yes, I compared this historical novel to a dish of lard-fried cornmeal mush (Jan. 17). And, yes, it’s as overwritten and slow-moving as Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, which did make the short list. But Frazier drew part of his inspiration from the life of the colorful 19th-century Indian rights advocate William Holland Thomas, who opposed the U.S. government’s forced removal of the Cherokee to the West. And to the degree that his book may foster interest Thomas and the Cherokee Trail of Tears, it has a value I didn’t find in Messud’s novel about repulsive New Yorkers in the months before Sept. 11.
Your Management Sucks: Why You Have to Declare War on Yourself and Your Business. By Mark Stevens. Which business book was worse, this one or The Power of Nice? Your Management Sucks (Dec. 29) probably crammed more clichés into a few lines than any book I read in 2006: “I think of it as the shooting-fish-in-barrel syndrome … When a business grows beyond initial projections, once it appears to defy gravity and build a powerful momentum, managers can become intoxicated by this magic-carpet ride and believe that from that moment on the future is golden. Guaranteed. A sure thing. And that’s when they put the plane on autopilot and a hard landing looms in the not-so-distant future.” And Stevens’s book has many lines like it. But the sappy The Power of Nice has clichés and more, including dippy anecdotes about people who supposedly got ahead by being “nice,” such as Donald Trump.
Which books do you think should have made the short list?
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.