One-Minute Book Reviews

February 27, 2009

10 Books Named Finalists for 2009 Delete Key Awards for Bad Writing

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:07 am
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Here’s a complete list of the finalists for the 2009 Delete Key Awards, which recognize authors who don’t use their delete keys enough. Click on this link to read passages that earned these books a place on shortlist, posted on Feb. 26 in ten separate posts. More comments on these awards appear at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

1. Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid (Viking), by Denis Leary.

2. Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult’s Life — For the Better (Basic Books), by Jeanne Safer.

3. The Underneath (Atheneum, ages 8 and up), by Kathi Appelt with drawings by David Small

4. Wolf Totem (Penguin), by Jiang Rong, translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt:

5. Change of Heart (Simon & Schuster/Atria), by Jodi Picoult.

6. Leisureville: Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias (Atlantic Monthly Press), by Andrew Blechman.

7. Read All About It! (HarperCollins, ages 4–6), a picture book by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush, illustrated by Denise Brunkus.

8. The Host (Little, Brown) by Stephenie Meyer.

9. Bright Shiny Morning (Harper), by James Frey.
10. Audition: A Memoir (Knopf), by Barbara Walters.

Randy Pausch has posthumously received the first Delete Key Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for The Last Lecture (Hyperion), in part for his unabashed acknowledgment of his love of football cliches. As long as there was still time left on the clock, he kept the drive alive.

The winners of the 2009 Delete Key Awards will be announced March 16 on the One-Minute Book Reviews blog.

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

(c) 2009 Janice Harayda.

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

November 28, 2007

Read All the Passages Shortlisted for the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award Here

Just found a link to all the passages shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the U.K-based Literary Review, won Tuesday by Norman Mailer‘s The Castle in the Forest, which defeated books by Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and others. The Guardian (formerly the Manchester Guardian) has them here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2217735,00.htm

That link will take you to them, but if it doesn’t work for you, just Google “Guardian + Bad Sex Awaard Shortlisted Passages.” Still haven’t found a YouTube upload of the reading of the offending lines that preceded the announcement of the winner. The finalists included Gary Shteyngart‘s Absurdistan, shown here.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

November 23, 2007

Ian McEwan Makes Longlist for Bad Sex in Fiction Award As Expected, Along With Norman Mailer and Jeanette Winterson

Read the list of the nominees for the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award and the lines that may have qualified On Chesil Beach for it

By Janice Harayda

Call me Nostradamus.

Back in August, when a lot of people couldn’t stop praising Ian McEwan’s overrated On Chesil Beach, I wrote that “McEwan aggressively courts a Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the Literary Review” with the novel www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/. I raised the possibility of the Bad Sex Award again when McEwan made the shortlist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction (“Does Ian McEwan Deserve the Man Booker Prize or a Bad Sex Award for Writing Like This? You Be the Judge”) www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/.

The Literary Review has just announced the longlist for the 2007 Bad Sex Award, meant to “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description … and to discourage it” in modern literary novels (not pornograhy or erotica). And who’s on it? McEwan, along with Norman Mailer, Jeanette Winterson and others. Here’s the longlist:

Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods

Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach

Richard Milward’s Apples

Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy

Maria Peura’s At the Edge of Light

James Delingpole’s Coward on the Beach

David Thewlis’s The Late Hector Kipling

Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest

Quim Monzo’s The Enormity of the Tragedy

Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan

Christopher Rush’s Will

Claire Clark’s The Nature of Monsters

Nobody seems yet to have a list of the passages that won their authors a spot on the longlist for the award, the winner of which will be named on Nov. 27. But these lines from On Chesil Beach (Doubleday/Nan Talese, $22) quoted in my August 10 post, should have qualified McEwan easily (page 24 in the first U.S. edition):

“Like most young men of his time, or any time, without an easy manner, or means to sexual expression, he indulged constantly in what one enlightened authority was now calling ‘self-pleasuring’ … How extraordinary it was, that a self-made spoonful, leaping clear of his body, should instantly free his mind to confront afresh Nelson’s decisiveness at Aboukir Bay.”

Thanks to the Nov. 23 Literary Saloon www.complete-review.com/saloon/ for a link to a post on the Bookseller www.thebookseller.com that had the list. When is the Literary Review www.literaryreview.co.uk going to post the qualifying passages?

By the way, you can’t use the “Search Inside This Book” tool on Amazon www.amazon.com to find those lines from On Chesil Beach that I quoted, because the people at Doubleday/Nan Talese haven’t enabled it for the book. Those spoilsports.

Janice Harayda www.janiceharayda.com is an award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and a vice-president for awards of the National Book Critics Circle.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

September 25, 2007

The Case Against Giving Prizes to Dumbed-Down Books

What’s the harm giving literary awards to books written at an 8-year-old reading level?

Okay, so the frontrunner for the Man Booker Prize, Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip, is written at a third-grade level www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/. Is there any harm in giving it the prize, anyway? Does the level matter if people enjoy the book?

In this case, it matters a lot. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The Man Booker Prize is one of the world’s major literary honors, perhaps second only to the Nobel Prize in Literature. To give the award to a novel written at a third-grade reading level would all but sanctify the dumbing down of our culture. The problem isn’t that all writers should write above an agreed-on level — it’s that a low reading level leads to pandering and oversimplification. Most third-graders need simplified books because their brains aren’t fully developed. What’s the point of writing at an 8-year-old reading level for adults?

2. Giving the prize to a novel written at a third-grade level would be unfair to all the children’s authors who write books at the same level and weren’t nominated because their publishers assumed they weren’t eligible. You might wonder, for example, why J.K. Rowling never appeared on a shorlist.

3. The Man Booker Prize typically leads a huge increase in sales of a book. If the award goes to Mister Pip, many people will buy it – or may already have done so — with the false expectation that they are getting a book written at a higher level.

4. Mister Pip is narrated by a black female university graduate who looks back on the life-changing impact of hearing a white man read Great Expectations at the age of 13. That such an educated woman would still think like an 8-year-old, in the context of the novel, defies belief. It also raises questions about cultural expectations of women and blacks that beg for comment by scholars and others.

Given all of this, what can readers, booksellers, librarians and others do?

If you haven’t bought the book, don’t buy it, or wait for the paperback. If you bought it and were disappointed, ask for your money back. Or leave a comment in the forum on the Booker site www.themanbookerprize.com entitled, “Did the Judging Panel Get the Shortlist Right?” If you are a bookseller or librarian, consider displaying Mister Pip in the children’s section or recommending it mainly for children under 12.

As for me, I’m trying to decide what to do on One-Minute Book Reviews if a book written at a third-grade level wins a major prize like the Booker or National Book Award. Should I move the review of the winner to the “Children’s Books” category? Let this blog “go dark” for a day? Or just put an asterisk if the title?

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

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