One-Minute Book Reviews

February 25, 2010

2010 Delete Key Awards Finalist #9 — ‘Going Rogue’ by Sarah Palin

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:24 am
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From Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue: An American Life (Harper):

“But when the boom went bust, the golden goose still ruled the roost.”
Unless the goose was counting its chickens before they hatched instead of the clichés in this one.

Read the full review of Going Rogue.

You can also read about the Delete Key Awards at @janiceharayda on Twitter. The 10 finalists are being announced in random order, beginning with number 10. This is finalist #9 The winner and runners-up will be named on March 15.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

November 22, 2009

Does Sarah Palin Deserve a Delete Key Award for Bad Writing for ‘Going Rogue’?

Filed under: Delete Key Awards — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:57 pm
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The Delete Key Awards have shown through finalists James McGreevey and Newt Gingrich that neither Democrats nor Republicans have a monopoly on bad writing. Should a politician make the 2010 shortlist due out in February? I haven’t read Going Rogue, but reviews suggest that it could be a candidate. Does Sarah Palin deserve to become a finalist for a Delete Key Award for bad writing in books? If you’d like to nominate a line from Going Rogue or another book by a politician, please use the address on the “Contact” page on this site or send an message on Twitter to @janiceharayda that includes the sentence or keywords from it.

April 16, 2009

In the Land of the Jane Fonda Urinal Target — ‘What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America’

[You can find some of my comments on the 2009 Pulitzer Prizes for books, which will be announced Monday, at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.]

How ignoring the economy and lifting up wedge issues got us into a mess

What’s the Matter With Kansas? By Thomas Frank. How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Holt, 336 pp., $16, paperback.

By Janice Harayda

Why did the Republican Party for years attract so many Americans who recently have lost their homes, jobs or life savings to its policies? How did the GOP recast itself as the party of working-class voters, who for generations had lined up behind the Democrats?

Thomas Frank gives bracing and witty answers in What’s the Matter With Kansas?, a former New York Times bestseller that is still one of the best books on the political roots of the current fiscal mess. Frank argues that for decades, Republicans have been eroding the traditional Democratic base by focusing on wedge issues such as abortion, gun control, and “filth” in the media, not on the economic policies that separate the parties. And since the Clinton administration, the Democratic Leadership Council has played into their hands by promoting “triangulation,” a business-friendly stance that downplays its differences with the GOP.

The result: The line between the parties blurred, and year after year Americans elected Republicans whose laissez-faire economic policies eventually would wipe out their 401(k)s.

Frank refracts the changes through his native Kansas, once a hotbed of progressive ideals, a state that has paid a scalper’s price for its march to the right. A portent of the American economic meltdown occurred when the attacks of Sept. 11 halted the orders to the Boeing, a mainstay of the Wichita economy. The aircraft manufacturer laid off many union workers and said that, this time, their jobs wouldn’t be coming back.

“In the summer of 2003, unemployment in Wichita passed 7 percent and foreclosures on homes spiked as these disasters reverberated through the local economy,” Frank writes.

But Kansans didn’t seem blame the Republican union-busting policies exemplified by Ronald Reagan’s decision to fire striking air traffic controllers. The state went for George Bush in 2004. And Frank’s pessimism about its political climate seems well-founded, if not prophetic, given the economic free fall that has occurred since the publication of his book. Even as the recession was spreading around the world, Kansas voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election.

Best line: At Kansas Vietnam Veterans reunion in 2002, trinket vendors sold “such items as the Jane Fonda urinal target.

Worst line: Frank describes how the national swerve to the right affected his hometown, the affluent Mission Hills, Kansas, and says you “can observe the same changes” in Shaker Heights, Ohio. No, you can’t. Parts of Shaker Heights — where I lived for 11 of the years when those changes supposed to be occurring — may look like Mission Hills with its castellated stone fortresses. But the Cleveland suburb is 10 times the size of Mission Hills, has a far more diverse population, and for other reasons does not fit the pattern he describes. Shaker Heights has lost enough of its cachet in the past several decades that the elite suburbs now lie farther to the east. Those suburbs include Hunting Valley, which more closely resembles his hometown.

Editor: Sara Bershtel

Published: June 2004 (hardcover), April 2005 (paperback).

Furthermore: Frank’s latest book is The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule.

Janice Harayda is a novelist and former book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

February 26, 2009

2009 Delete Key Awards Finalist #7– ‘Read All About It!’ by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush

Delete Key Awards Finalist #7 comes from Read All About It (HarperCollins, 32 pp., $17.99, ages 4–6), a picture book by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush, illustrated by Denise Brunkus:

“I say, ‘The library is a boring place! All I will meet there are stinky pages.’”

and

“Miss Toadskin thinks she can gross us out with her science experiments. But I live for that stuff!”

It happens every year! Delete Key Awards finalists try to strengthen weak sentences by adding manic exclamation points! And bad puns! How many 4-year-olds will know that a “page” is someone who reshelves books!

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

November 15, 2008

Woman Says She Traded ‘Sexual Favors’ for Vote for Bush (Quote of the Day / Nancy Huff in ‘The Necklace’)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:44 pm
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Nancy Huff makes this comment about her husband, Wayne, in The Necklace, a bestseller that tells the true story of 13 women, including Huff, who chipped in to buy a $15,000 diamond tennis necklace:

“I told Wayne, ‘I’ll make a deal with you. If you vote for Bush I’ll give you sexual favors.’ I live with a Democrat. What else could I do? Men are distracted by their little brain, as we call it.”

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

September 4, 2008

Pundit Hart Seely Lampoons McCain and Obama in Verse in ‘Mrs. Goose Goes to Washington: Nursery Rhymes for the Political Barnyard’

Filed under: Humor,Poetry — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:44 pm
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Last year Hart Seely tweaked John McCain, Barak Obama and others in Mrs. Goose Goes to Washington: Nursery Rhymes for the Political Barnyard (Free Press, 128 pp., $12.95), a tart collection of parodies that may be due for a sales spike. His “Old John McCain” begins:

Old John McCain
Had a very fine brain
What a very fine brain had he,
He went to ’Nam,
Then he came back home,
And he ran with the GOP.
He reached for the sky,
And then faced the lie,
That a little bit nutty was he, was he …

Other parodies in the book appear on the Simon & Schuster site www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?tab=1&pid=534287&agid=2. In its wisdom, the publisher has not posted the poems about Obama and McCain nor has it enabled the “Search Inside” tool on Amazon. But you can read part of Seely’s “Hey! Let’s Vote Obama!” in the original review of Mrs. Goose Goes to Washington oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/06/17/.

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

September 3, 2008

Sarah Palin’s Résumé in 5 Lines

Sarah Palin makes “Obama’s resume look as thick as Winston Churchill’s,” Katha Pollitt wrote last week in her blog for the Nation. Apart from serving as mayor of Wasilla, what did Palin do before being elected governor of Alaska in 2006? This résumé or C. V. appears atop her two-page listing in the respected Almanac of American Politics 2008 (National Journal Group, 2007), by Michael Barone with Richard E. Cohen:

Elected Office: Wasilla City Cncl., 1992–1996; Wasilla Mayor, 1996-2002.

Professional Career: Television sports reporter, 1987–1989; Co-owner, commercial fishing operation, 1988–2007; Owner, snow machine, watercraft, and all-terrain vehicle business, 1994–1997; Chairwoman, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2003–2004.”

Read Katha Pollitt’s “Sarah Palin, Wrong Woman for the Job” at www.thenation.com/blogs/anotherthing/351330 and a review of her essay collection Learning to Drive at www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/. Learn about the Almanac of American Politics 2008 at www.nationaljournal.com/almanac/.

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

August 25, 2008

Is Laura Bush’s Children’s Book as Bad as the New York Times Said? Or Is the Newspaper Biased Against the Bush Administration?

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:58 pm
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Art by Denise Brunkus for Read All About It!

Illustration by Denise Brunkus for 'Read All About It!'

Popular first ladies like Laura Bush tend to get a free pass from newspapers, which generally appreciate that they are doing a difficult job for no pay. But the New York Times Book Review had harsh words for Read All About It! (HarperCollins, $17.99), the new picture book about the joy of reading by Bush and her daughter Jenna.

Roger Sutton, editor of the Horn Book, wrote that the authors seemed “fundamentally tone deaf” to why children love reading and that they told a story in which “the teachers’ names are dorky, the plot is hectic and the suspense and dialogue are artificial.” Is Read All About It! as bad as the Times said? Or was a liberal newspaper biased against a conservative administration it never liked, anyway?

Find out this weekend when a review of Read All About It! appears on One-Minute Book Reviews, which reviews books for children or teenagers every Saturday. In the meantime you can read Sutton’s review here www.nytimes.com/2008/05/11/books/review/Sutton-t.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.

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

May 27, 2008

‘Goodnight Bush’ — A Parody in the Style of a Certain Children’s Book

Filed under: Humor — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:49 pm
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You could argue that you can’t satirize the man who said “I know how hard it is to put food on your family” because his actions have outstripped reality. But that hasn’t stopped Gan Golan and Erich Origen from sending up the president in their just-published parody of a certain children’s book, Goodnight Bush (Little, Brown, 48 pp., $14.99). Until I can put my hands on a copy of this one, you can learn more from the reader-reviews on www.amazon.com and from GalleyCat www.mediabistro.com/GalleyCat/, which has an article on it today.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

May 8, 2008

Books the Candidates Need #2 — John McCain — ‘Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 When You’re 80 and Beyond’

Filed under: How to — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:49 am
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John McCain will be 72 years on August 29, and if he served two terms as president, he would celebrate his 80th birthday in the White House. Would we want to spend eight years watching him sink into what Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge call “the typical decay associated with aging”? No? Then maybe somebody should send him Crowley and Lodge’s Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 When You’re 80 and Beyond (Workman, $12.95, paperback), a self-help book for men who want to avoid feeling like Father Time before their time. To meet its standards, McCain would to have to exercise at least six days a week. So those Secret Service agents who jog with George Bush may need to hold on to their running shoes.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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