One-Minute Book Reviews

June 18, 2009

At Home With the Honorable and Rebellious Mitford Sisters – Deborah, Diana, Jessica, Nancy, Pamela and Unity

Filed under: Memoirs — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:01 pm
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“Class was a delicate matter, a subject for intuition rather than conversation, one of those ‘borderline’ subjects, deeply felt but never discussed,” writes Jessica Mitford in Hons and Rebels (NYRB Classics, 2004), a memoir of growing up in the storied upper-class English family that inspired her sister Nancy’s Love in a Cold Climate, reviewed earlier today. I haven’t read this one, but I admired Jessica Mitford’s landmark exposé of the funeral industry, The American Way of Death. And the NYRB site has a brief introduction by Christopher Hitchens and a reading group guide with more on this family of six gifted daughters and a son killed in World War II.

November 8, 2007

A Poetry Collection for Children Ages 6 and Up — Coming Saturday

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:53 pm
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Reviews of books for children and teenagers appear on Saturdays on One-Minute Book Reviews. Coming this weekend: A review of Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things, a picture book of recent and classic poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated Robert Rayevsky.

(c) Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

March 15, 2007

Steel, Albom and Messud Win Top Awards for the Worst Writing in Books

Toxic Bachelors, For One More Day and The Emperor’s Children finish win, place, and show in the first annual bad-writing contest sponsored by One-Minute Book Reviews,

Three novelists have won top honors in the 2007 Delete Key Awards competition for the worst writing published in books in the preceding year. Danielle Steel won the Grand Prize for Toxic Bachelors. Mitch Albom was first runner-up for For One More Day and Claire Messud second runner-up for The Emperor’s Children.

The blog One-Minute Book Reviews announced the winners earlier today. Steel, Albom and Messud defeated seven other books, including Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Rising, James McGreevey’s The Confession (with David France) and Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval’s The Power of Nice. Each winning book received a separate post on March 15 that described the reasons for its selection. The March 16 post will explain why some of the also-rans didn’t win the competition, the results for which were announced only on the Internet.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

Second Runner-up for the 2007 Delete Key Award: ‘The Emperor’s Children’ by Claire Messud

The second runner-up for the 2007 Delete Key Award for the year’s worst writing in books is …

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

How did this pretentious novel end up on so many best-of-the-year lists? Who knows? Every year there’s at least one book that earns praise far out of proportion to its merits. (Remember the great reviews Mitch Albom got when he started writing books? How hollow does some of the praise seem now?) The most overrated book of 2006 was The Emperor’s Children, a windy and cliché-infested novel full of repulsive characters who move in eddies around an aging New York journalist.

So why didn’t it win top honors in the Delete Key Awards competition for the year’s worst writing in books? Tedious as much of this novel is, The Emperor’s Children picks up steam in the last one hundred or so pages, when it borrows some drama from the events of Sept. 11, 2001. How many readers will stick with it until then?

Original review on One-Minute Book Reviews: Oct. 4, 2006, “The Emperor’s Children Wear Clichés,” Oct. 4, 2006, archived with the October posts and in the “Novels” category.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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