Jerry Adler had a brilliant evisceration of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret in the March 5 issue of Newsweek. He devotes five pages to some of the more bizarre claims in this bestseller by a former television producer, who purports to explain how you can get everything you want in life by using a “law of attraction.” The law, Adler writes, is scientifically “preposterous.” (Sample advice: If you want to lose weight, stop looking at fat people.) The Newsweek article says in part:
“You’d think the last thing Americans need is more excuses for self-absorption and acquisitiveness. But our inexhaustible appetite for ‘affirmation’ and ‘inspiration’ and ‘motivation’ has finally outstripped the combined efforts of Wayne Dyer, Anthony Robbins, Dr. Phil and Mitch Albom. We have actually begun importing self-help — and from Australia, of all places, that citadel of tough-minded individualism, where just a couple of years ago, Byrne was a divorced mother in her 50s who had hit a rocky patch in her business and personal lives. It was in that moment of despair, when she ‘wept and wept and wept’ (as she recounted to Oprah on the first of two broadcasts devoted to her work), that she discovered a long-neglected book dating from 1910 called The Science of Getting Rich. In it she found how to let your thoughts and feelings get you everything you want, and determined to share it with the word. She called it The Secret …”
Obviously — obviously — I will report back to you soon on whether we have a frontrunner here for the 2008 Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books. Until then I’d like to offer a modest defense of Australian imports by reminding you of my reviews of two of my favorite children’s picture books, Cat and Fish (Feb. 17, 2007) and The Nativity (Dec. 8, 2006), both award-winners from Down Under. Please read these posts before you conclude, on the basis of the Newsweek article, that Australia is shipping us only baloney by the pound.
A further defense of Australia: The Delete Key Awards have had links from blogs on at least three continents. Some of the most delightful comments came from the Australian writer Sean Lindsay on his blog 101 Reasons to Stop Writing http://101reasonstostopwriting.blogspot.com/, where he suggested that the Delete Key Awards should be televised and winners forced to donate some of their royalties to literacy programs. What a brilliant idea! Maybe the awards should be televised on Oprah’s show because at least one finalist, Elizabeth Berg, owes some of her success to having had an earlier book selected by its book club …
Thanks also to Bill Peshel at Reader’s Almanac www.planetpeschel.com, a font of reviews of the reviews of mysteries and thrillers too often neglected in this space.
How to find the takedown of The Secret in Newsweek: If you can’t get the following direct link to work (which I can’t), the quickest way to find the article is to Google “Adler + Newsweek + The Secret.” Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17314883/site/newsweek/
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.