One-Minute Book Reviews

March 11, 2009

Claire Messud Won a 2007 Delete Key Award for These Clichés. Should Barbara Walters Win One for Hers?

Filed under: Delete Key Awards — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:22 pm
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What does it take to win a Delete Key Award for the year’s worst writing in books? Two years ago it took the clichés found in Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children. That novel was the second runner-up in 2007 Delete Key Awards competition, finishing behind Mitch Albom’s For One More Day (first runner up) and Danielle Steel’s Toxic Bachelors (grand prize winner). Messud received her Delete Key Award for lines like:

“It filled her with despair, a literal leadening of her limbs, a glazing of the eyes, so that she could barely lift the sheets of paper around her, and certainly couldn’t decipher what was written upon them.”

Among the problems with the sentence: That “leadening” wasn’t literal but metaphorical, and the sentence is infested with clichés

Messud was also recognized for writing that one of her characters “never knew in life whether to be Pierre or Natasha, the solitary, brooding loner or the vivacious social butterfly.”

As opposed, presumably, to a loner who wasn’t solitary.

This year Barbara Walters made the Delete Key shortlist for her cliché-stuffed Audition, which brims with sentences like:

“Just before the ax fell, lightning struck and my life changed, never to be the same again.”

Has Waltters surpassed Messud? Is her sentence bad enough to win a Delete Key Award? If you’d like to try to tamper with the jury, you have until Saturday.

Read some of the comments on Messud’s Delete Key Award here.

The 2009 Delete Key Award winners will be announced on Monday, March 16, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

© 2009 Janice Harayda.

February 26, 2009

2009 Delete Key Awards Finalist #10 — Barbara Walters’s ‘Audition’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:58 am
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Delete Key Awards Finalist #10 comes from Barbara Walters’s Audition: A Memoir (Knopf, 624 pp., $29.95):

“Just before the ax fell, lightning struck and my life changed, never to be the same again.”

Did it change because Walters had never before used so many clichés in a sentence?

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

May 12, 2008

Barbara Walters’s ‘Audition’ – A Delete Key Awards Candidate?

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,Memoirs — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:57 am
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Kyle Smith wrote in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal that Barbara Walters is “a journalist who cannot write.” The sentence he offered as evidence? “Just before the ax fell, lightning struck and my life changed, never to be the same again.” I haven’t seen Walters’s Audition, in which the sentence appears. But the line sounds like a possible candidate for one of the Delete Key Awards, which this site gives annually to writers who haven’t used their delete keys enough. What do you think? Read the full review by Smith, a film critic for the New York Post, here:

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

May 7, 2008

How to Talk With Successful People – A Tip From Barbara Walters’s Other Book

Filed under: How to — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:20 pm
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I haven’t seen Barbara Walters’s new memoir, Audition. But when I was starting out in journalism and looking for ideas on how to get hard-shelled sources to open up, I read her self-help book, How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything. Walters offered this tip on talking with all the intimidatingly successful people you meet at parties or elsewhere: Ask them to tell you about their first job. I’ve taken that advice many times, and it usually works. The more successful people are, the more they seem to love to talk about their modest beginnings — as though the contrast between the past and present might make their achievements appear all the more impressive.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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