One-Minute Book Reviews

September 5, 2008

And Today’s Gusher Award for Achievement in Hyperbole in Book Reviewing Goes to …

Filed under: Gusher Awards — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:08 am
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The Gusher Awards are back after a summer hiatus of a couple of weeks. This week’s award goes to …

“The Great American Novel is something like a unicorn – rare and wonderful, and maybe no more of a notion. Yet every few years or so, we trip across some semblance of one. Oof! What’s this? Why, it’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Ecco), a sprawling skein of a yarn about a farm nestled up against the forest primeval …”
June 2008, Elle

Unicorns are not “rare and wonderful” and “maybe no more of a notion” — they are mythical and there’s no “maybe” about whether they are “a notion.” Mixing the simile in the first sentence with that metaphor of “a sprawling skein of a yarn” makes it worse, and “Great American Novel” and “forest primeval” are clichés. There’s been a lot of talk this year about the decline of book reviewing in newspapers, and women’s magazines aren’t helping with prose like this.

Gusher Awards appear on Fridays on One-Minute Book Reviews unless no praise went far enough over the top that week to qualify. For a different view of David Wroblewski’s Hamlet-influenced first novel, see the review of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle written in iambic trimeter verse that appeared on this site on Aug. 28 A reading group guide to the novel was posted on Sept. 3

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Once again, the Gusher Awards, like the rare and wonder knight on his and/or her quest, have found the holy grail of critisim and have removed the sprawling skein of yarn so that might see it.


    Comment by knightofswords — September 9, 2008 @ 10:06 am | Reply

  2. Your future may lie in parody, Malcolm, and parody is just what some of these award winners deserve …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — September 9, 2008 @ 10:34 am | Reply

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