One-Minute Book Reviews

June 3, 2011

Today’s Gusher Award for Literary Hype Goes to …

Filed under: Gusher Awards — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:13 pm
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This week’s Gusher Award for literary hype goes to Nicole Krauss for a blurb for David Grossman’s To the End of the Land that, even by the forgiving standards of its category, spins out of control:

“Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you open a book and when you close it again nothing can ever be the same. Walls have been pulled down, barriers broken, a dimension of feeling, of existence itself, has opened in you that was not there before. To the End of the Land is a book of this magnitude. David Grossman may be the most gifted writer I’ve ever read; gifted not just because of his imagination, his energy, his originality, but because he has access to the unutterable, because he can look inside a person and discover the unique essence of her humanity. For twenty-six years he has been writing novels about what it means to defend this essence, this unique light, against a world designed to extinguish it. To the End of the Land is his most powerful, shattering, and unflinching story of this defense. To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.”

Walls may “have been pulled down” in the book, but the breathless clichés should have fallen here.

Thanks to the critic and editor Scott Esposito for posting this overheated blurb on his Conversational Reading blog, and to former Publishers Weekly deals columnist Matt Thornton (www.twitter.com/thorntonmatt) for remembering it.

Gusher Awards recognize over-the-top praise for books or authors in reviews, blurbs or elsewhere. One-Minute Book reviews welcomes nominations for them. You can also follow Jan Harayda (@janiceharayda) on Twitter at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

© 2011 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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.

September 25, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Lisa Kleypas and Candy Tan

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

Lisa Kleypas on Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan’s Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels:

“A high-octane, hilarious, and revelatory look at the romance genre … This sparkling book is required reading. It’s too much fun to be missed!”

Candy Tan on the hero of Lisa Kleypas’s Only With Your Love, in Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels:

“Justin is my favorite guilty pleasure. … He’s my ultimate fantasy hero, and by that I mean he’s someone I desire strictly as a fantasy.”

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

September 20, 2009

Another Installment of ‘Backscratching in Our Time’ Coming Friday

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:23 am
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On Friday I’ll have another post in my “Backscratching in Our Time” series, which calls attention to authors who praise each other’s books. In the meantime, I found an interesting comment on this sort of logrolling on the site for literary agent Nathan Bransford.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted wrote a lively guest post for Bransford about dust-jacket blurbs that dealt in part with the question: Whom should you ask for these? She advised against putting an all-points-bulletin on your Web site* seeking people who might like to compare you to Lord Byron or Joan Didion, then added:

“I’ve also seen novices offer publicly, ‘Hey, if anyone wants to blurb my book, I’ll blurb theirs!’ Again, please don’t do this. It’s unprofessional in so many ways. For starters, there’s already an unpleasant impression in some circles that blurbing is a corrupt process involving log-rolling and political back-scratching and every other awful name you can think up for it. Don’t help perpetuate that negative perception. Further, let’s say Ian McEwan or Nora Roberts – or why not both? – are the sort of authors you’re going after. No offense, but do you really think it’s going to influence their decision, the promise that you’ll gladly blurb them in return?”

If you’re wondering why it’s unprofessional, the simplest answer is: It’s a conflict of interest — or the appearance of one — and as such could damage your credibility and that of the other party to the horse-trading.

*I agree with this only under some circumstances, but Baratz-Logsted made a good case for her view.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

July 30, 2009

More Authors Who Blurb Each Other’s Books – Tomorrow in ‘Backscratching in Our Time’

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:21 pm
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“Backscratching in Our Time” keeps alive the spirit of “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy magazine, which called attention to authors who blurbed each other’s books. If you know of writers who should be included, you can nominate them by using the e-mail address on the “Contact” page. Another example of logrolling will appear tomorrow, and earlier posts are saved in the “Backscratching in Our Time” category on this site.

February 13, 2008

Has Wikipedia Been Hijacked by Ishmael Beah’s PR Machine? The Online Encyclopedia Abandons Neutrality and Regurgitates the Young Author’s View by Editorializing That ‘It Is Important Not to Lose to Lose Sight’ of His Human-Rights Work

[UPDATE at 9:25 a.m. on March 2, 2008: At this writing, Wikipedia appears to have been sucker-punched again. A post about the continuing lack of neutrality in Beah's entry will appear soon on One-Minute Book Reviews.]

[UPDATE at 12:01 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2008: Since I wrote this post, the biased line that I discuss below has been removed from Beah's Wikipedia entry. If you see that someone has reinstated that line or inserted others that lack neutrality, I'd be so grateful if you let me know. Thanks. Jan]

Would Wikipedia warn that “it is important not to lose sight” of Roger Clemens’s contributions the Boys and Girls Clubs as we consider whether he used steroids?

By Janice Harayda

Has the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia become the latest victim of the deepening controversy about the credibility of Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone?

Wikipedia editorializes in its entry for Beah that “it is important not to lose sight” of the young author’s work to raise awareness about child soldiers en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_Beah. This is not a neutral comment. It is exactly what Beah and his handlers want you to think and have been saying since the newspaper the Australian began raising questions last month about A Long Way Gone, billed by its publisher as a memoir of Beah’s experiences as a child solider in Sierra Leone.

Why, exactly, is it “important not to lose sight” of Beah’s human-rights work? And to whom? Does Beah’s work matter if it is based wholly or partly on claims nobody can substantiate? Will his efforts comfort the hundreds of thousands of readers who bought A Long Way Gone in the belief that its story was, in Beah’s words, is “all true,” and who now may now have serious doubts about its veracity? Shouldn’t we consider the harm that any book may do along with the good?

Beah’s listing on Wikipedia is questionable for reasons other than its editorializing. One-Minute Book Reviews will deal with these reasons soon if the encyclopedia allows them to remain in place. In the meantime, you may wonder: Would Wikipedia instruct us – as we consider whether Roger Clemens used steroids — that “it is important not to lose sight” of the pitcher’s contributions to the Boys and Girls Clubs?

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

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