One-Minute Book Reviews

December 30, 2012

Backscratching in Our Time — Jami Attenberg and Julie Orringer

The latest in a series of posts on authors who praise each other’s work

Jami Attenberg on Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, which she listed as one of the “5 Best Things” she had “read recently” in Impose magazine: 

“I just cracked open Julie Orringer’s latest book this morning; a very wise and literary friend gave me a galley of it and promised I would love it. It’s gorgeous so far, master-craftsman-next-level kind of writing.”

Julie Orringer on Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins in the New York Times Book Review:

“There’s a touching paradox in the first chapter of Jami Attenberg’s caustic, entertaining and bighearted new novel, The Middlesteins….The burning question, which Attenberg explores with patience and sensitivity, is why Edie has embarked on her self-destructive path. The answers themselves aren’t surprising: Edie married too early, felt ambivalent about parenthood, became disillusioned with her career. What’s remarkable is the unfailing emotional accuracy and specificity with which Attenberg renders Edie’s despair….largely brilliant.”

Read about other logrolling authors in the “Backscratching in Our Time” series.

You can follow Jan on Twitter by clicking on the “Follow” button on this page.

© 2012 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

July 10, 2012

Backscratching in Our Time: Denis Johnson and Michael Cunningham

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,Book Awards,Pulitzer Prizes — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:53 pm
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The latest in a series of posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Michael Cunningham says that he and the two other jurors for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction found it “upsetting” that the board that oversees the awards rejected all three of the books they nominated, including Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams. Here’s what others might find upsetting: In a 5,000-word post on the controversy for the Page-Turner blog for the New Yorker, Cunningham doesn’t mention a conflict of interest: As I noted in April, Johnson helped to launch Cunningham’s career by providing a blurb for his first book and did him another favor by allowing him to reprint his work in an anthology. Some people would argue that, given these conflicts, Cunningham should have recused himself from judging Johnson’s work for the Pulitzer. His New Yorker post makes clear that he participated actively in the process.

Here’s what the two writers say about each other:

Denis Johnson on Michael Cunningham’s Golden States:
“Michael Cunningham writes with wisdom, humor, and style about a difficult part of any life.”

Michael Cunningham on Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams:
“Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams had been written ten years earlier and been published as a long short story in The Paris Review. It was, however, magnificently written, stylistically innovative, and—in its exhilarating, magical depiction of ordinary life in the much romanticized Wild West—a profoundly American book.”

Read other posts in the “Backscratching in Our Time” series. You can follow Jan on Twitter by clicking on the “Follow” button in the right sidebar.

As noted on the “About This Blog” page on this site, comments on posts must relate directly to their content,  must contain no more than 250 words, and must  have a civil tone.  They must also include a name, a photo avatar, or a link to a site what includes these, unless their author is known to the moderator of One-Minute Book Reviews. 

© 2012 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

February 3, 2012

Backscratching in Our Time / Andrew Roberts and Simon Sebag Montefiore

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:53 am
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The latest in an occasional series of posts on authors who praise each other’s books in reviews, blurbs or elsewhere

Historian Andrew Roberts on Simon Sebag Montefiore (on his website):
“The answers to these and a myriad other fascinating questions can be found in The Art of War: Great Commanders of the Modern World, a sumptuous chronological survey of the greatest commanders of the last four centuries. Compiled by an exceptionally distinguished team of historians (including such eminent names as Lady Antonia Fraser, Sir Martin Gilbert, Sir Alistair Horne, Michael Burleigh, Simon Sebag Montefiore and Richard Overy).”

Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore on Andrew Roberts (in the Wall Street Journal):
“My books of the year are Andrew Roberts’s The Storm of War, the best full history of World War II yet written …”

Read about other authors who are logrolling in our time.

December 27, 2011

Backscratching in Our Time — Lev Grossman and George R.R. Martin

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:33 am
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The latest in a series of posts on authors who praise each other’s books in blurbs, reviews or elsewhere:

Lev Grossman on George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, which he ranked No. 1 on his list of the Top 10 Fiction Books of 2011 for Time magazine:

“The artistry and savagery of Martin’s storytelling are at their finest: he has seized hold of epic fantasy and is radically refashioning it for our complex and jaded era, and the results are magnificent. … in the realm of epic fantasy, there is only one true king, and it’s Martin.”

George R.R. Martin in a blurb he provided for Lev Grossman’s The Magicians before Grossman named him to the Time 10 Top Fiction Books list:

“These days any novel about young sorcerers at wizard school inevitably invites comparison to Harry Potter. Lev Grossman meets the challenge head on … and very successfully. The Magicians is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to a glass of weak tea.

Via Ed Champion (@drmabuse) on Twitter.

One-Minute Book Reviews welcomes nominations for its “Backscratching in Our Time” series, which has included other prominent authors.

October 10, 2010

Backscratching in Our Time: Edwidge Danticat and Amy Wilentz

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:25 pm
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Edwidge Danticat recommends Amy Wilentz’s The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier (Simon & Schuster, 1990)  on the Wall Street Journal’s “Speakeasy” blog on Jan. 14, 2010, calling it a book “which blends current events with cultural history” and “seeks to detail the society beyond the headlines.”

Amy Wilentz recommends Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (Princeton University Press, 2010) in the New York Times Book Review on Oct. 10, 2010:
“It’s a miracle, the way she captures the textures of a reality she was a part of for only the first 12 years of her life. The section in which she and her cousin and uncle climb a mountain and visit an aunt in a remote village is filled with small wonders.”

December 18, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time — Jonathan Lethem and Laura Miller

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:40 pm
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The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books.

Jonathan Lethem on Laura Miller’s The Magician’s Book:

“Conversational, embracing, and casually erudite, Laura Miller’s superb long essay is the kind that comes along too rarely, a foray into the garden of one book that opens to the whole world of reading, becoming in the process a subtle reader’s memoir, and manifesto.”

Laura Miller in naming Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City one of the five best works of fiction of 2009 in Salon:

“A great New York novel should aim for the universal by way of the parochial. The Manhattanites in Lethem’s near-future/alternative-now metropolis experience all the crises and travails of 21st-century life in a slightly more concentrated form. (It takes a novelist of exceptional talent and nerve to make you believe that matters of moment can hang on the outcome of an eBay auction.) … On this you can count: Chronic City is the real thing.”

Lethem also appeared in the “Backscratching in Our Time” on Oct. 30, 2009. The series was inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the late Spy magazine. You can nominate authors for it by using the e-mail address on the “Contact” page on this site.

October 30, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Jonathan Lethem and David Shields

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:10 am
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The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Jonathan Lethem on David Shields’s Reality Hunger: A Manifesto:
“I’ve just finished reading Reality Hunger: A Manifesto and I’m lit up by it—astonished, intoxicated, ecstatic, overwhelmed. It’s a pane that’s also a mirror: as a result of reading it, I can’t stop looking into myself and interrogating my own artistic intentions. It will be published to wild fanfare, because it really is an urgent book: a piece of art-making itself, a sublime, exciting, outrageous, visionary volume.”

David Shields on Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City (back cover of the hardcover edition):
“I’m reminded of the well-rubbed Kafka line: A book must be the axe to break the frozen sea within us. Lethem’s book, with incredible fury, aspires to do little less. It’s almost certainly his best novel. It’s genuinely great.”

“Backscratching in Our Time” was inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy Magazine. Posts in the series appear on Fridays when examples of reciprocal blurbs are available. If you’d like to nominate authors, please use the e-mail address on the “Contact” page. You’ll find more examples of horse-trading in the “Backscratching in Our Time” category.

You can follow Jan Harayda on Twitter at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

October 23, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Aleksandar Hemon and Gary Shteyngart

The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Aleksandar Hemon on Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan:
Absurdistan is not just a hilarious novel, but a record of a particular peak in the history of human folly. No one is more capable of dealing with the transition from the hell of socialism to the hell of capitalism in Eastern Europe than Shteyngart, the great-great grandson of one Nikolai Gogol and the funniest foreigner alive.”

Gary Shteyngart on Aleksandar Hemon’s Love and Obstacles:

“Hemon can’t write a boring sentence, and the English language (which he adopted at a late age) is the richer for it.”

The “Backscratching in Our Time” category on this site has other examples of logrolling by contemporary authors.

October 16, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time — Barbara Ehrenreich and Thomas Frank

The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Barbara Ehrenreich on Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?:

“What’s the Matter with Kansas? is the most insightful analysis of American right-wing pseudopopulism to come along in the last decade. As for Kansas: However far it’s drifted into delusion, you’ve got to love a state that could produce someone as wickedly funny, compassionate, and non-stop brilliant as Tom Frank.”

Thomas Frank on Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-sided:

“We’re always being told that looking on the bright side is good for us, but now we see that it’s a great way to brush off poverty, disease, and unemployment, to rationalize an order where all the rewards go to those on top. The people who are sick or jobless—why, they just aren’t thinking positively. They have no one to blame but themselves. Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who’s ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book.”

More examples of reciprocal blurbing appear in the archives for “Backscratching in Our Time,” inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy magazine. “Backscratching” posts appear periodically on Fridays. If you’d like to nominate authors for it, please use the e-mail address on the “Contact” page on this site.

October 9, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Mitch Albom and Harold Kushner

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:56 am
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The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Mitch Albom on Harold Kushner’s Living a Life That Matters:
“A wonderful, much-needed primer on the truly important things in life. Many thanks to Harold Kushner for reminding us what we should never forget.”

Harold Kushner on Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith:
“Once again, Mitch Albom has given us a heart-warming true story, about the power of love to triumph over death, and the power of faith to guide us through the worst adversity.”

These blurbs seem to be another example of a first principle of backscratching: The Less They Need It, The More They Do It. After a series of bestsellers and a movie of his Tuesdays With Morrie, why does Mitch Albom need blurbs?

To read more examples of backscratching by authors, click here. One-Minute Book Reviews welcomes nominations for this this series, which was inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy magazine. To suggest authors who should be included, please use the e-mail address on the “Contact” page on this site.

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