One-Minute Book Reviews

September 27, 2009

Barbara Walters: William Safire Gave Me a Sheer Black Shorty Nightgown and Lace Panties at an Office Christmas Party

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 8:58 pm
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Barbara Walters remembers in her recent memoir, Audition, when her co-worker William Safire (1929-2009) gave her a sheer black shorty nightgown and matching lace panties at an office Christmas party.

September 28, 2008

Paul Newman (1925 — 2008 ) on What He DOESN’T Want on His Gravestone (Quote of the Day via Eric Lax’s ‘Newman’)

Filed under: News,Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:53 pm
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Paul Newman risked losing fans and roles by campaigning in 1968 for the Democratic candidate for president, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who opposed the Vietnam War. Eric Lax explains why in his Newman: Paul Newman: Biography (Turner, 1996):

“Newman was one of the earliest backers of McCarthy, and his support came at a time when most people considered those who opposed the war to be cowards or even traitors. Newman’s appearance always brought out the news media. He presented himself to audiences not as a celebrity but as a parent, concerned about the future and believing that McCarthy offered the most hope.

“‘I am indifferent to your political persuasion,’ he would begin. ‘I am not a public speaker. I am not a politician. I’m not here because I’m an actor. I’m here because I’ve got six kids. I don’t want it written on my gravestone, ‘He was not part of his times.’ The times are too critical to be dissenting in your own bathroom.’”

The quote first appeared in the New York Times on April 22, 1968.

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

September 14, 2008

A Personal Encounter With David Foster Wallace (1962–2008)

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 6:40 pm
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Many critics know far more than I do about the novelist and short story writer David Foster Wallace, who killed himself on Friday, and David Gates has posted a good appreciation of his fiction on the Newsweek site www.newsweek.com/id/158935. So I’ll mention only an encounter I had with Wallace, early in his career, when I was the book editor of the Plain Dealer. I had read his story “Everything Is Green” — which has fewer than 700 words — in Harper’s before it was collected in Girl With Curious Hair, and I had remarked in my Sunday column that it was too minimalist for my taste.

Not long afterward, I got a letter from Wallace that was unusual for two reasons. One was that Wallace wrote to me about what was little more than a passing mention of his story: Most novelists don’t write to book editors about reviews that have hundreds or thousands of words. The letter was also noteworthy for its mildness: Wallace didn’t sound angry so much as baffled that I hadn’t liked his story, and he tried to persuade me to reconsider. His tone differed markedly from that of the may-God-smite-your-firstborn letters that I received at times from writers, and I appreciated his civility. Some critics have faulted Wallace’s writing for bombast, but if that quality had its roots in a personal trait, I saw no evidence of it in my gentle encounter with him.

[Contact information for the family of David Foster Wallace: Wallace leaves his wife, Karen Green; his parents, James and Sally Wallace; and his sister, Amy. Write to his family c/o David Foster Wallace Author Mail, Little, Brown & Co., 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017, or through Pomona College, where he taught: c/o Gary Kates, Dean, Pomona College, 333 N. College Way, Claremont, CA 91711.]

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch (1960–2008) — Here Are a ‘Last Lecture’ Review, Reading Group Guide and Quotes

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:55 pm
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Randy Pausch has died from complications of pancreatic cancer, the disease that prompted him to give a talk that gained a second life on the Internet and inspired his bestseller, The Last Lecture. He was 47. Here are the links to posts on this site that offered a review of, reading group guide to and quotes from the book:

Review: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/30
Reading Group Guide: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress/com/2008/05/30
Quotes: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/30 (with other quotes in the review and reading group guide)

©2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com and www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

July 8, 2008

Thomas Disch (1940–2008), Author of ‘The Brave Little Toaster’

Filed under: Fantasy,News,Science Fiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:18 pm
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‘One of the finest writers of literary SF ever to emerge from America’ dies at 68

Thomas Disch, author of The Brave Little Toaster and other books, died Friday in Manhattan. Douglas Martin reported in the New York Times that he shot himself after a series of personal setbacks www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/books/08disch.html.

“Mr. Disch’s work was voluminous and included many forms and genres,” Martin wrote. “In addition to writing speculative fiction (his preferred term for science fiction), he wrote poetry from light to lyric to dramatic; realist fiction, children’s fiction and historical fiction; opera librettos and plays; criticism of theater, films and art; and even a video game.

“One of Mr. Disch’s best-known works is The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances (1986), in which a toaster, a clock radio and an electric blanket come to life. In the New York Times Book Review, Anna Quindlen said the book was more sophisticated than it seemed: ‘Buy it for your children; read it for yourself,’ she advised.”

Disch tomsdisch.livejournal.com/ also wrote The Genocides, which Stephen E. Andrews and Nick Rennison named one of the “100 must-read science fiction novels” in a recent guide to the genre. The book centers on aliens who sow the Earth with seeds that grow into giant plants, which begin to destroy the planet’s ecological balance and undermine civilization.

The Genocides is an invasion story with a difference: what chance can humanity have against beings who consider us to be nothing more than garden pests?” Andrews and Rennison say in 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels (A & C Black, 2007). They add:

The Genocides is packed with black wit, mordant observation of characters and the kind of self-consciousness present in the very best contemporary art. This was the start of a glittering career for Disch, whose novels, poetry and criticism have won him considerable acclaim … Despite his occasional remoteness of tone, Disch is nevertheless a humane author whose highly accomplished and often very funny work marks him as one of the finest writers of literary SF ever to emerge from America.”

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

June 20, 2008

Tasha Tudor (1915–2008), Children’s Book Author and Illustrator

Filed under: Children's Books,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:02 pm
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Tasha Tudor, whose children’s books evoked a gentle bygone world, has died in Vermont at 92. Douglas Martin reports in the New York Times that Tudor often said she was the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived from 1800 to 1840 or 1842 and was replicating that way of life, which was also reflected in her books. Her son Seth suggested “that his mother’s more colorful remarks might be taken with a pinch of salt,” Martin said. www.nytimes.com/2008/06/20/books/20tudor.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Over seven decades Tudor illustrated scores of books with pictures that, a Times critic once said, “have the same fragile beauty of early spring evenings.” The American Library Association chose two of them, Mother Goose and 1 Is One, as Caldecott Honor Books www.acrl.org/ala/alsc/awardsscholarships/literaryawds/caldecottmedal/caldecotthonors/caldecottmedal.cfm

A review of Tudor’s A Tale for Easter appeared on One-Minute Book Reviews in March www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/.

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

May 23, 2008

John Updike (1932-2009) Explains What His Books Are ‘About’

Filed under: News,Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:42 am
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John Updike has died of lung cancer at the age of 76. This is a re-publication of an earlier post about his work.

Critics often fault John Updike for not having a social message or making a point that runs throughout all his books. Is this fair? Updike deals with the meaning of his books in an interview in Picked-up Pieces (Knopf, 1975), one of his early collections of essays, reviews and other nonfiction:

“My books are all meant to be moral debates with the reader, and if they seem pointless — I’m speaking hopefully — it’s because the reader has not been engaged in the debate. The questions is usually, ‘What is a good man?’ or ‘What is goodness?’ and in all the books an issue is examined. Take Harry Angstrom in Rabbit, Run: there is a case to be made for running away from your wife. In the late Fifties beatniks were preaching transcontinental traveling as the answer to man’s disquiet. And I was just trying to say: ‘Yes, there is certainly that, but then there are all these other people who seem to get hurt.’ That qualification is meant to frame a moral dilemma.”

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

March 18, 2008

The Impact of Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008) Recalled by Three-Time Caldecott Medal Winner David Wiesner

Filed under: Science Fiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:36 pm
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Arthur C. Clarke, who has died at the age of 90 www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23697230/, got little respect from some literary critics, who dismissed him as a writer of futuristic potboilers. But his science-fiction influenced some of the most respected authors of our time. They include David Wiesner, who honored Clarke’s best-known novel in The Art of Reading: 40 Illustrators Celebrate RIF’s 40th Anniversary, in which popular artists re-envision a scene from a favorite book. Wiesner chose to re-imagine one from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a book that had captivated him in his youth: He’d seen Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie version, and when he saw the novel in a book-club catalog, he had to have it.

“The book turned out to be as fantastic and absorbing as the movie, and I couldn’t put it down,” he says in The Art of Reading. He was “fascinated by the way the same idea had been presented in two different mediums, one visual and one literary.” He’s still fascinated by such links: In 2007 Wiesner, one of America’s most admired children’s authors, won his third Caldecott Medal for Flotsam, a picture book about a boy who finds a magical camera.

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

May 27, 2007

Military Obituaries Worthy of a Memorial Day Salute

Filed under: Biography,Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:28 am
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A collection celebrates men and women who wore their uniforms with courage and eccentricity

By Janice Harayda

Digby Tatham-Warter led a bayonet charge during the Battle of Arnhem sporting a bowler hat and an umbrella. Nell Allgrove and other captured Australian nurses survived on two ounces of rice a day in Japanese camps in Sumatra. Charles Fraser-Smith sent golf balls with compasses inside and other gadgets to British prisoners in Germany, an effort so successful that he became the model for “Q” in the James Bond books.

The stories of these and other extraordinary men and women appear in The Daily Telegraph Second Book of Obituaries: Heroes and Adventures (Macmillan, 1993), edited by Hugh Massingberd, the second volume in a series from the British newspaper. Most of the subjects of this book were British or Commonwealth soldiers, sailors, aviators, spies, or nurses, though some never wore a uniform. And their stories show why military-obituary writers at the Telegraph are seen as five-star generals of a vanishing art. Written with verve and candor, the pieces in this book reflect a deep sympathy for both the courage and the eccentricities of their subjects. Few American newspapers would have the wit to begin an obituary like this: “Major General Micky Whistler, who has died aged 83, had a career of remarkable variety in which his cheerful disrespect for pompous and hidebound senior officers brought numerous reprimands, but did much to improve the efficiency and morale of his men.”

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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