One-Minute Book Reviews

February 29, 2008

2008 Delete Key Awards Finalist #10 – ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:01 am
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Delete Key Awards Finalist #10 – From The Secret by Rhonda Byrne:

“The most common thought that people hold [about fat], and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind now it is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight.”

If this is true, how can you lose weight? Byrne suggests that you stop looking at fat people:

“If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it.”

So if that low-carb diet isn’t working, maybe you should stop watching those weigh-ins on The Biggest Loser.

The ten Delete Key Awards finalists are being announced in random order from No. 10 to No. 1.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

Countdown to the Super Bowl of Bad Writing

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:47 am
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The Delete Key Awards finalists will be numbered but announced in random order

It’s almost here – the playoff game for the Super Bowl of bad writing. In less than half an hour, One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the first of ten finalists for the 2008 Delete Key Awards, which recognize authors who aren’t using their delete keys enough. The others will be named at about 20–30 minute intervals with the full shortlist posted by the end of the day.

The Delete Key Awards finalists will be numbered, starting with No. 10, but announced in random order. The numbering is only to help you keep track of how many books have made the shortlist so far. The winners will be named on March 15, 2008.

Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews, a site for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

O. J. Simpson and Ishmael Beah Books Disqualified From Delete Key Awards

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:16 am
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Two of the most controversial books of 2007 have been ejected from the competition

O. J. Simpson’s If I Did It might be the most loathsome book in the history of publishing, but it’s been disqualified from the 2008 Delete Key Awards contest, which recognizes the year’s worst writing in books. One-Minute Book Reviews said last weekend that the book had been ruled ineligible because it would be cruel to the other finalists to mention them in the same breath with this purportedly “hypothetical” account of the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.

Another controversial book, Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone, was disqualified today for different reasons. The Delete Key Awards don’t recognize the “worst books” of the year but specific examples of bad writing, such as cliché-infested sentences or paragraphs. And the Australian, the Australian national newspaper, has raised such serious questions about the credibility of Beah’s entire account that to single out one or two sentences would distract attention from those larger issues. A Long Way Gone doesn’t need a Delete Key Award – it needs a segment on Sixty Minutes.

The first Delete Key finalist will be named by 10 a.m. today with others announced throughout the day.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

February 28, 2008

Tomorrow – Finalists for the Delete Key Awards for the Worst Writing in Books

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:38 pm
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Can’t get enough of clichés, psychobabble and bad grammar? You’ll find them all on the shortlist for the second annual Delete Key Awards, which recognize authors who aren’t using their delete keys enough. The ten finalists for the 2008 prizes will be announced in separate posts starting at 10 a.m. Eastern Time that will include samples of their bad writing. The full shortlist will appear by the end of the workday.

After that, you’ll have two weeks to comment on the finalists. The winners will be announced on March 15 because Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March and the honored books include writing that assassinates the English language. The Delete Key Awards do not recognize the “worst books” but the worst writing in books (typically, individual lines or paragraphs). The prizes honor the books published in the U.S. in hardcover or paperback in the preceding year, and some titles may be grandfathered in if they appeared too late in 2006 to gain traction until 2007.

Strong arguments by visitors may affect who wins on March 15. Please check back tomorrow or bookmark this site to find out if your favorite authors made the shortlist.

Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews.

For more information about Delete Key Awards, see the Feb. 24, 2008, post “Questions and Answers about the 2008 Delete Key Awards for the Year’s Worst Writing in Books” www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/.

– Jan Harayda

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

February 27, 2008

Does the Cover of ‘A Long Way’ Gone Show a Soldier in Niger or Another African Country Instead of Sierra Leone? Why Isn’t the Location Identified?

Filed under: Book Covers — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:50 pm
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Seeing red on the dust jacket of Ishmael Beah’s controversial book

Does anything strike you as odd about the photo on the cover of A Long Way Gone, the book that Ishmael Beah bills as a memoir of his years as a child solider in Sierra Leone? For months the picture puzzled me: Why was the young solider wearing a T-shirt in a shade of orange-red so bright, it would make him an easy target for an enemy?

The book says only that the picture was taken by Michael Kamber www.kamberphoto.com and came from the Polaris image bank www.polarisimages.com. And at first I suspected that an art director had changed the original color of the T-shirt to a bright orange-red so the cover would stand out more at stores.

But the more I looked at the cover, the more questions I had: Why hasn’t the young man’s T-shirt faded when his flip-flops are so tattered? Where was the picture taken? If it shows Sierra Leone, why doesn’t the cover say so?

It occurred to me that the soldier might be wearing an orange-red T-shirt for the same nationalistic reasons that the Marines wear their blue, white and red dress uniforms. But the colors of Sierra Leone flag don’t include orange or red – they’re blue, green and white. And the colors of another West African country, Niger, are the colors of the young soldier’s T-shirt and flip-flops – dark orange and green. Soldiers in Niger seized control of the government in 1996 after the ouster of the president Mahamane Ousmane, and Human Rights Watch has called on both government and rebel forces to end abuses against civilians that have occurred in a more recent conflict www.hrw.org/english/docs/2007/12/19/niger17623.htm.

Publishers don’t have to tell you more about stock photos than Beah’s book does. Still, wouldn’t you like know how this one found its way onto the cover of A Long Way Gone?

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

February 26, 2008

Rating the Cover of ‘A Long Way Gone’ – Tomorrow on One-Minute Book Reviews

Filed under: Book Covers — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 8:24 pm
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Update, 5 p.m. Yes, I still plan to rate the cover today, Wednesday. The post should be up in an hour or so. Thanks for your patience. Jan

You could argue that the cover of A Long Way Gone doesn’t matter, given all the other concerns that have been raised about the credibility of this book by a man who claims to have spent two years as a child soldier in Africa. But book covers always matter in the sense that what you wear on a job interview matters. They’re part of what’s become known in the age of Facebook as “impression management.” So tomorrow One-Minute Book Reviews will consider the cover of A Long Way Gone in the next of its occasional series of posts that rate book covers on their artistry and accuracy in representing the text. You’ll find other posts in the “Book Covers” category at right. This site welcomes comments from booksellers, librarians, graphic designers and others whose perspectives on book covers may differ from those of literary critics.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

Should This Line From the ‘The Devil in the Junior League’ Make the Shortlist for the 2008 Delete Key Awards?

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:50 pm
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Here’s the kind of question I’ve been wrestling with while compiling the shortlist for the annual Delete Key Awards that will be announced Friday: Should the following line from The Devil in the Junior League (St. Martin’s/Griffin, 341 pp., $12.95, paperback) appear on the list? Linda Francis Lee writes in this comic novel about backstabbing Texas socialites:

“Sure, I wanted the chance to explain why I had been less than mannerly to him, but that didn’t mean I wanted all those overly feelingish feelings he had an uncanny ability to make me, well … feel.”

Why it should be on the list: Would you buy this novel if the book flopped open to this line while you were looking at it in Borders?

Why it shouldn’t: No. 1: The writing on the Delete Key shortlist tends to be unintentionally funny. This line is – I think – supposed to be funny (and, if delivered by the right actress, could be). No. 2: The Devil in the Junior League is pop fiction that’s up against heavier-hitters like On Chesil Beach. No. 3: Would I libel the state of Texas by suggesting that this is how women there think ?

I’m leaning against it. Lee may be just too good for this shortlist.

The finalists for the Delete Key Awards will be announced Friday in separate posts that will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern Time and appear at about 30-minute intervals throughout the day. The full shortlist will be posted by the end of the day.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

Does ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ Perpetuate Stereotypes of Mexicans?

Filed under: Essays and Reviews,Latin American,Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:07 am
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This week I’ve been slogging through books that all seem to read like bad translations from an extinct language, like Coptic or Proto-Slavic. To reward myself, I’ve been rereading Nobody’s Perfect (Vintage, 752 pp., $16.95, paperback), a collection of Anthony Lane’s writing on books and movies for The New Yorker.

I began with Lane’s witty account of reading all the books on the New York Times fiction bestseller list for May 15, 1994 (a companion piece to a report on the list for the July 1, 1945). The essay includes this comment on Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, a tale of a woman doomed to spinsterhood in early 20th-century Mexico:

“Mexican readers fell on this book avidly, it seems, although its subsequent global triumph should surely give them pause; the main effect, after all, has been to perpetuate the myth of their homeland as lust-ridden, superstitious, and amusingly spicy.”

Why is this point so rarely made by books and Web sites that recommend Like Water for Chocolate to reading groups? The novel may have other qualities that make it worthy of consideration by book clubs. But shouldn’t the stereotypes be mentioned, too?

One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation. The site will announce the shortlist for the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 29.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

February 25, 2008

Why We Need Negative Reviews of Books (Quote of the Day/William Logan)

Perhaps everyone who’s edited a newspaper or magazine book section has heard the question: “Why do you publish negative reviews of books? When you have so little space, why not focus on the good ones?” William Logan deals with the question as it applies to poetry in his The Undiscovered Country:

“It’s often said that critics shouldn’t write negative reviews, because bad poetry will take care of itself (time will take care of it, too). With so few books in a given year worth remembering, why review those that will soon vanish from memory? I love reviewing poets I admire (isn’t that what a critic lives for?); but if you write only such reviews, how can a reader trust your praise? We learn something necessary about how a few poets go right when we know the ways so many have gone wrong: the latest clichés of feeling, the shop-thumbed imagery, the rags and bones of organization. Great poets transcend their age as much as they embody its ills, or succumb to them; but mediocre poets succumb on every page.

“If you’re too gentle to say a mean thing, are you ever courageous enough to say a truly kind one (or mean enough to say an honest one)? It’s surprising how many poets feel that poetry criticism should never be … critical. Yet these gentle readers love film and theater reviews that would eat the chrome off a car bumper.”

William Logan in the introduction to his most recent book of poetry criticism, The Undiscovered Country: Poetry in the Age of Tin (Columbia University Press, $29.50) www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/. Logan teaches at the University of Florida www.english.ufl.edu/faculty/wlogan/index.html and writes the Verse Chronicle for the New Criterion newcriterion.com:81/. He is author of three other works of criticism and seven books of poetry. His awards include the a citation for excellence in reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle www.bookcritics.org.

One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review and inflation.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com


A Report From the Frontlines of the Cosmetic Surgery Boom Returns in Paperback

Filed under: Nonfiction,Paperbacks — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:38 am
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Heard about the Detroit radio station had a contest called “New Year, New Rear” and gave the winner $15,000 worth of liposuction? You would have if you’d read Beauty Junkies: In Search of the Thinnest Thighs, Perkiest Breasts, Smoothest Faces, Whitest Teeth, and Skinniest, Most Perfect Toes in America, (Broadway, 304 pp., $14.94, paperback), just out in paperback with a new subtitle (replacing Inside Our $15 Billion Obsession With Cosmetic Surgery). How did we get to the point that some people don’t blink when they hear about a “New Year, New Rear” promotion? What are the social, emotional and medical costs of the cosmetic surgery boom? New York Times reporter Alex Kuczynski www.alexkuczynski.com gives fearless answers in a skillful blend of reporting, social commentary and advice to people who may submit to the knife or needle.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

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