One-Minute Book Reviews

March 14, 2011

Like ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘Madame Bovary’ Is ‘About Nothing’

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:27 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Jerry Seinfeld joked that his long-running NBC sitcom was “a show about nothing.” Did Madame Bovary inspire the words that became one of the best-known catchphrases in television? Consider this passage from One-Hundred Great French Books (BlueBridge, 2010), by Lance Donaldson-Evans, a professor of romance languages at the University of Pennsylvania:

“Flaubert once described Madame Bovary as a work ‘about nothing,’ a curious description for a book in which a great deal happens. What he really meant was that he had deliberately selected a trite subject in order to show that even banality could be redeemed by art. “

March 7, 2011

Why Was Dr. Spock’s ‘Baby and Child Care’ So Influential?

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:36 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dr. Spock has yielded a lot of ground to a new generation to child-rearing experts like the American pediatrician Bill Sears and the British psychologist Penelope Leach. But it’s hard to overstate the influence of his Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care on parents of baby boomers. First published in 1946, Spock’s guide helped to introduce to America the theories of Sigmund Freud, including that “infantile experiences” and “repressed sexual desires” led to unhappiness in adulthood.

Steve Gillon writes in Boomer Nation: The Largest and Richest Generation Ever and How It Changed America (Free Press, 2004):

“Thanks to Benjamin Spock, Boomers – often called ‘Spock babies’ – had Freud mixed with their baby formula. ‘Benjamin Spock probably did more than any single individual to disseminate the theory of Sigmund Freud in America,’ observed the psychiatrist and Freudian critic E. Fuller Torrey. Spock, whose The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946) served as the bible for Boomer parents, had attended the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in the 1930s and was determined to bring Freud and his ideas to a mass audience. Spock rejected his own upbringing, which emphasized strict feeding schedules and unchanging routines, and insisted that parents respond to the needs and schedules of their children. ‘Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do,’ he reassured worried new parents. His ideas reflected the optimism of the age, reinforcing that personality was malleable only if parents developed the right skills. Along with practical advice about colic, toilet training, and temper tantrums, Spock offered parents sugar-coated doses of Freudian psychology. Since he believed that most adult problems began in childhood, Spock instructed parents about the concepts of ‘sibling rivalry’ and used Freud’s Oedipus complex to explain the behavior of 6-year-olds.”

March 6, 2011

Edith Wharton on Dull Men — Quote of the Day / ‘The House of Mirth’

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 7:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

“She had been bored all the afternoon by Percy Gryce … but she … must submit to more boredom … all on the bare chance that he might ultimately decide to do her the honour of boring her for life.”

Edith Wharton on Lily Bart, the heroine of her novel The House of Mirth

 

March 3, 2011

Women, Age and Hollywood – Quote of the Day From Tracey Jackson’s ‘Between and Rock and a Hot Place: Why 50 Is Not the New 30’

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:52 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Screenwriter Tracey Jackson talks about women in film and television in her new Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty (Harper, 287 pp., $25.99):

“In Hollywood 30 is considered 80, especially where women are concerned. This attitude tends to affect actresses first, but the second group on its hit list is usually writers, particularly those who write comedy, a genre not very friendly to women to begin with. …

“As in every profession, there are exceptions to the rule, and one of the biggest exceptions, if not the biggest, is that if you are a superstar in your field by the time you are 50, you can skid forward to at least 60. … You can run down a list of women in their 50s and 60s in top jobs, but I promise you every one of them was a superstar in her world by no later than 45. The general consensus seems to be that if you haven’t made it by then, the chances are you aren’t going to, so why keep you around?”

March 1, 2011

‘Early Diagnosis Is a Double-Edged Sword’ — Quote of the Day

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:29 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Early diagnosis can hurt you, three doctors argue their new Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health (Beacon Press, 228 pp., $24.95). Too many Americans are being treated for conditions that will never cause symptoms, let alone death, say H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz, and Steven Woolshin. Some people contend that no harm can come of the “epidemic of diagnosis”:

“But the truth is that early diagnosis is a double-edged sword. While it has the potential to help some, it always has a hidden danger: overdiagnosis—the detection of abnormalities that are not destined to ever bother us. …

“the conventional wisdom is that more diagnosis—particularly, more early diagnosis—means better medical care. The logic goes something like this: more diagnosis means more treatment, and more treatment means better health. This may be true for some. But there is another side to the story. More diagnosis may make healthy people feel more vulnerable—and, ironically, less healthy. In other words, excessive diagnosis can literally make you feel sick. And more diagnosis leads to excessive treatment—treatment for problems that either aren’t that bothersome or aren’t bothersome at all. Excessive treatment, of course, can really hurt you. Excessive diagnosis may lead to treatment that is worse than the disease.”

You can read the introduction to Overdiagnosed on Scribed.

© 2011 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

 

February 22, 2011

Religious Motifs in ‘Room’ — Quote of the Day

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:25 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Critics have all but ignored the obvious religious motifs in Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, including its many references to God, Jesus, and Christian saints. But Donoghue talked about the spiritual framework for her bestseller in an Economist interview about the book, which tells the story of a mother and her 5-year-old son held captive in a backyard garden shed. Here is an excerpt from her comments:

The Economist: Both Ma and Jack pray and, especially in the case of Ma, find comfort in their faith. How does faith figure in to Room?

Emma Donoghue: I’ve always been religiously inclined but it doesn’t come up in most of my books. I always knew it would be central to Room because prisoners cling to whatever tatters of faith they’ve got: look at those Chilean miners and their daily prayer groups. Between you and me, I’m not sure how literally Ma believes in all that, but it certainly makes sense that she would have taken whatever vague Christian framework she had and offered it to Jack as part of her system for making meaning of their days, and keeping hope alive. Kids delight in “magical thinking,” whether in the form of the Tooth Fairy or the saints: whether you see these as comforting lies or eternal verities, they are part of how we help kids make sense of the world. I think that’s why the religious element of Room does not seem to bother non-religious readers; they can just put it on a par with Santa. But for me, Room is a peculiar (and no doubt heretical) battle between Mary and the Devil for young Jesus. If God sounds absent from that triangle, that’s because I think for a small child God’s love is represented, and proved, by mother-love.

You can read the full interview on the Prospero blog for the Economist. And you can read more about the religious motifs in a One-Minute Book Reviews review of Room and in a reading group guide to the novel.

January 28, 2011

Foreign Correspondent Megan K. Stack on Hosni Mubarak, Islamists and the Future of Egypt / Quote of the Day

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, Megan K. Stack saw the government of Hosni Mubarak steal an election from the rival Muslim Brotherhood party,  a force in this week’s uprising in Egypt. Stack describes the event in “The Earthquake Nobody Felt,” a chapter in her 2010 National Book Award finalist, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War (Doubleday, 2010). Her book includes this comment:

“There was only one source of serious political opposition to the Egyptian autocracy, a single party strong enough to unseat the government – and that was the Muslim Brotherhood, a nonviolent Islamist movement with deep roots across Egypt. Officially, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed, but the reality was nuanced. The government would pass through bouts of tolerance, then round up activists and raid party offices in crackdowns. Nobody stood to gain more from democratic reform than the Brotherhood, because no other force in Egypt had its legitimate popularity, the grass roots credibility, the air of moral authority.”

A review of Every Man in This Village Is a Liar appeared on this site in September.

January 20, 2011

What Makes a Book Review Work? Quote of the Day

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:25 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Many well-written book reviews are unsatisfying because critics fail to describe and evaluate an author’s main ideas or themes. Longtime Library Journal editor Barbara Hoffert alluded to the problem at a recent National Book Critics Circle program, “Book Reviews, Revamped.” Hoffert said she often tells reviewers:

“I want to know what this book’s argument is, and does it make sense?”

November 29, 2010

What Does ‘Getting Away From It All’ Mean in an Age of Anxiety? Quote of the Day From Lionel Shriver’s Novel ‘So Much for That’

Filed under: Novels,Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:55 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Few people plan for retirement as ambitiously as does Shepherd Knacker, the protagonist of Lionel Shriver’s novel So Much for That. For years he has saved for what he calls his “Afterlife” in a spot far removed, geographically and emotionally, from where he built a profitable home repair business and raised two children with his wife, Glynis.

In this passage, he explains what he wants to flee:

“What would I like to get away from? Complexity. Anxiety. A feeling I’ve had my whole life that at any given time there’s something I’m forgetting, some detail or chore, something I’m supposed to be doing or should have already done. That nagging sensation – I get up with it, I go through the day with it, I go to sleep with it. When I was a kid, I had a habit of coming home from school on Friday afternoons and immediately doing my homework. So I’d wake up on Saturday morning with this wonderful sensation, a clean, open feeling of relief and possibility and calm. There’d be nothing I had to do. Those Saturday mornings, they were a taste of real freedom that I’ve hardly ever experienced as an adult. I never wake up in Elmsford with the feeling that I’ve done my homework.”


September 13, 2010

On Not Making Coffee – Quote of the Day / From ‘News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist’

Filed under: Memoirs,Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Laurie Hertzel began her 18-year career at the Duluth News Tribune in 1976, the year Barbara Walters became the first female co-anchor of a network newscast. But such milestones had yet to open many doors for women at the Minnesota newspaper. Male reporters still wrote most of the stories, and the chief photographer was a man who had spent time in a German prison in World War II and made his way to America with his life savings hidden in an accordion.

Hertzel recalls her experiences at the News Tribune in News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist, a lively new memoir from the University of Minnesota Press. In this excerpt she tells what happened after she learned that she was supposed to make coffee for her male colleagues:

“I might have been timid, but I had a strong sense of fairness. I didn’t drink coffee, so I saw no good reason why it should be my responsibility. Also, it was logistically complicated. The only place with a sink deep enough to hold the coffee urn was the men’s bathroom. There was a women’s restroom on our floor, but it was a tiny, one-hole affair with a shallow sink, located directly across from the sports department. This meant that every time one of the seven women on the floor had to pee, the sportswriters didn’t just know it, they could hear it. It was a humiliating bathroom for a shy person, and it was of absolutely no use in making coffee.

“To make coffee I had to lug the urn down the hall, pound on the door, yell, ‘Is anybody in there?’ and then go in and fill it up at the big, deep sink, hoping that no guy came in needing to take a whiz, and then stagger with it back down the hall, water sloshing my ankles. This was not something I was inclined to do, so I set about scheming to get out of this responsibility. First, I started bugging guys when they were at their busiest. ‘Can you fill the coffee pot for me? There’s someone in the bathroom.’ They didn’t care to be interrupted when they were on deadline, and they didn’t want to be away from their phones when they were waiting for a call back from a source, so this drove them a little nuts. And then I made coffee … badly. Undrinkably so. In a newsroom, that’s saying a lot. …

“So it wasn’t too long before the responsibility just sort of evaporated, and I could concentrate on the fun stuff … ”

Hertzel, who is books editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, tells more about News to Me on her Web site. You can follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/StribBooks and read more excerpts from her memoir on the University of Minnesota Press blog.

« Previous PageNext Page »

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 367 other followers

%d bloggers like this: