One-Minute Book Reviews

March 16, 2007

Why Some of the Awful Stuff You Read Didn’t Win a Prize for the Year’s Worst Writing … Secrets of the Delete Key Awards Exposed

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Why didn’t some worthy authors win the bad-writing awards given yesterday to Danielle Steel, Mitch Albom and Claire Messud?

By Janice Harayda

Sore that the clinker you read last year didn’t get one of the prestigious 2007 Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books? Here are explanations for why some finalists – worthy as they were – weren’t among the winners announced yesterday on One-Minute Book Reviews:

The Confession by James McGreevey with David France.
How could a resident of New Jersey not honor a former governor who, instead of reducing our alpine property taxes, got embroiled in the sex scenes he describes in red, white, and purple prose in this memoir? Okay, I admit it. I voted for this man. Doesn’t that make me, in a small way, complicit in lines like: “He greeted me in his briefs …”. Giving an award to McGreevey would have been like giving an award to myself and others who put him the State House. And could I be sure that a loose canons on the Internet wouldn’t reveal this conflict of interest? Wouldn’t that taint the purity of a site that never accepts free books from publishers? And when he’s not describing how he had sex at Turnpike rest stops, McGreevey gives a clear explanation of the often sordid machine politics in New Jersey (largely run nonelected bosses known as warlords), which might make any self-respecting voter want to move to an uncorrupted place like Chicago. (Don’t make any assumptions about my politics because McGreevey is a Democract. I also voted for the Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican, for governor of Ohio.)

Love Smart – Find the One You Want, Fix the One You Got by Dr. Phil McGraw and
The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

Yes, you could hardly find two books worthier of a bad-writing award. But did their authors write them? Most celebrities and executives use ghostwriters or other collaborators. And while McGreevey had the decency to credit David France on his cover, you can’t be sure who is really responsible for some of the dreadful prose in Love Smart and The Power of Nice. I know, I know. Their authors’ failure to give cover credit to their ghostwriters or other helpers, if they had them, should have been another strike against them. But I worried that if I gave an award to one of these books, I might be giving it to an underling who had suffered enough. Call me a softie.

The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan
The 10 finalists for the Delete Key Awards contained much unintentional comedy. In The Interruption of Everything the comedy was intended and, at times, effective. For all the problems in this novel, I was grateful for the laughs.

The Book Club Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Reading Group Experience by Diana Loevy
This loopy guide gives book club members recipes, decorating ideas, pet-care tips, and descriptions of books that might have been written by their authors’ mothers. You’ll also find lots of plugs for books from the Penguin Group in this book from an imprint of – you guessed it – the Penguin Group. But I didn’t test the recipes. Maybe the guacamole is good.

The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg and Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
Why didn’t these two novesl win? I had only three spots. If I’d had more, they would have gotten them. The “worst” of the two is a question of whether you’d rather read about a childbirth scene involving Mary and Joseph and a donkey or a human shish kabob. See why these choices were tough?

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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