One-Minute Book Reviews

June 27, 2007

Were Holly Peterson’s Cringe-Inducing Sex Scenes Too Much for Newsweek and ABC?

Filed under: Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Where to find the sex scenes in The Manny that Newsweek and ABC won’t show you in their excerpts … the page numbers for the good parts

Why didn’t Newsweek and ABC include any of Holly Peterson’s cringe-inducing sex scenes in The Manny in their online excerpts from the novel? Were their Web editors squeamish about running phrases like “Now she was on her knees” and “like a fire hose”? Were the editors trying to avoid embarrassing the author, a Newsweek contributing editor and former ABC News producer? Or did the publisher of the novel decide not to offer them the passages and hold out for, say, Sixty Minutes?

As noted in yesterday’s review of The Manny, Peterson’s sex scenes are irreproducible on a site with links from public libraries. But that doesn’t have to stop you from checking them out at a bookstore.

Here are the places in Peterson’s new novel about a male nanny where you can find the scenes that Newsweek and ABC don’t show you in their excerpts:

If you believe novelists should remember America’s firefighters even when writing about adulterous sex in a linen closet …
See page 167, the part that begins with “Now she was on her knees …” and ends with “like a fire hose in her expensive mouth.”

If you prefer sex scenes that remind you of the Discovery Channel …
See page 288, especially the line: “He was munching furiously on his prey, like an African lion with a freshly caught zebra.” Guess what part of the body the “prey” is.

If you get undressed in weird ways, too ..
See page 333, including this scene that takes place in bed: “Then he rested his head on his elbow and started unbuttoning my shirt … He pulled my arms in the air and peeled off my shirt.” Wait a minute, you’re probably thinking. If the shirt had buttons, why did he pull her arms in the air? Isn’t that how you would take off a T-shirt? If the guy was dying for sex, wouldn’t he just slip the shirt off her shoulders? Was it maybe a polo or other shirt with only a few buttons? If so, why didn’t Peterson say so instead of always leaving you scratching you head about what’s going on in these sex scenes? Sorry, but if you have to ask, you clearly don’t run with the Park Avenue elite who are the focus of The Manny. I don’t get it, either, but this seems to be another of those Fitzgeraldian examples of how the rich are different. As the woman in the scene says later, “It was never like this with anyone.” Definitely not.

A review of The Manny and a Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guide to the novel were posted on One-Minute Book Reviews on June 26, 2007 I can’t link directly to the Newsweek and ABC excerpts, but you can find the same excerpt at Click on the links for The Manny on the Random House home page, then click on “Read an excerpt.” Holly Peterson has a page on My Space ( that you can find by going to and searching for “hollypetersonthemanny.”

Janice Harayda is an award-winning critic who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle. She administers the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books, handed out annually on March 15 . The top three awards in this year’s Delete Key competition went Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s ChildrenFor One More Day (first runner-up), Mitch Albom’s For One More Day (second runner-up) and Danielle Steel’s Toxic Bachelors (grand prize winner). Submit your nominations for a special beach books edition of the Delete Key Awards, to be announced later this summer, by leaving a comment on One-Minute Book Reviews.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

June 20, 2007

You’re a Real Republican If …

Filed under: Humor,Paperbacks — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:11 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“Patriot Act: Protecting the nation against the twin evils of terrorists and library patrons.”
— A definition from The Real Republican Dictionary

The Real Republican Dictionary. By Robert Lasner. Ig Publishing, 103 pp., $9.95, paperback.

By Janice Harayda

A friend who lives in the original blue state recently dated a man she saw as a perfect for her except for one epic flaw: He was a Republican. To cheer her up, I bought her The Real Republican Dictionary, a book that satirizes what Robert Lasner calls “Republican English” on topics from “abortion” to “zealot.” Before I could send it, they broke up. That gave me a chance to take a second look at the book and discover that it isn’t just for people who believe they’ve been tragically mismatched with an incipient Libertarian by an online dating service. Although Lasner hasn’t come out with a guide to “Democratic English,” you may be able to tell whether you’re a “real” Democrat by inverting his explanations of GOP positions.

You’re a real Republican if you agree with these definitions from The Real Republican Dictionary:

Patriot Act: Protecting the nation against the twin evils of terrorists and library patrons.”
Founding Fathers: Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich.”
War: To be used only as a first resort.”
Oil: ‘The good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are freely elected democratic regimes friendly to the United States … But we go where the business is.’ Dick Cheney, Cato Institute, June 1998.
Culture: NASCAR.”

Published: September 2005

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

June 12, 2007

Does ‘The Secret’ Work? Final Results My 30-Day Test of ‘The Secret’

Filed under: Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:34 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ouch. My 30-day test of The Secret is over, and now I know the secret of the universe: Taking advice from bestsellers can leave you worse off instead of better.

Yes, I knew when I started the test that the premise of Rhonda Byrne’s bestseller was scientifically “preposterous,” as Jerry Adler put it in his brilliant expose of the book in the March 5 issue of Newsweek. But One-Minute Book Reviews is the blog that gives out the annual Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books. And The Secret seemed like such an obvious frontrunner that I thought: Shouldn’t I at least try its techniques before giving it a booby prize? How often do I have a chance to road-test the advice in a Delete Key contender? It’s not as though I can turn myself into a Danielle Steel heroine and do what she does to get men to give her jewelry and take her on Mediterranean cruises, which would require shaving at least a decade off my age and more off my dignity.

So on May 2, I began a one-month trial of the premise of The Secret: You can have anything you want by tapping into a “law of attraction” in the Universe (always spelled with a capital U). Byrne says that Universe will “manifest” your desire as long as you know exactly what you want. Part of the beauty of the “law of attraction,” Byrne says, is that you don’t actually have to work to achieve your desire: You just have to visualize it act as though you already have it. No order is too tall for the Universe to fill. “It is as easy to manifest one dollar as one million dollars,” Byrne writes.

That’s why I asked the Universe for a one-million-dollar advance for my next novel or for a movie or paperback deal for one of my earlier books. Given Byrne’s claims, this had to be a much fairer request than many that readers of The Secret were making, because the Universe could fill in so many ways it. I wasn’t one of those people asking for a vintage Mercedes that hadn’t rolled out of a plant since the Eisenhower administration. There were hundreds of publishers who had my agent’s telephone number. (My agent represented the most recent winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction! Those publishers had to be practically hacking into her voice mail to find out what she had to sell!) There were probably even more filmmakers who know how to get her number. Some of those producers had to be desperate for romantic comedies that could serve as star vehicles for actresses who were just coming out rehab and needed to make a comeback fast.

I was also willing to be fair to the Universe and cut it a little slack if it was overwhelmed in by all the requests from people who bought The Secret. As Byrne advised, I visualized the million-dollar check. But I decided I would give the Universe credit if, say, a flush publisher or producer had invited my agent to lunch to talk about me. (As Gay Talese once said, New York is about lunch.) My theory was: I could assign credit based on how good the lunch venue was – say, a few thousand for the Four Seasons and under $25 for Burger Heaven. I also decided to give the Universe some credit if the sales of one of my novels spiked on Amazon, suggesting that producers were buying it by the carton to ship to those actresses in rehab.

So what happened? Here are the results:

1. Not only did I not get the million dollars, I had what may have been, financially, my worst month in years. I can’t even tell you how bad it was, because a lot of sites for writers link to One-Minute Book Reviews, and some of their visitors might quit writing forever if I did.

2. Apart from not handing over the one million, the Universe hit me with bizarre and unexpected expenses, which made the month even more of a disaster. For example, I had to file a Freedom of Information Act request for a few records I needed. Journalists do this all the time, but I hadn’t done it before. So I didn’t realize that you had to pay for documents you wanted, which in my case amounted to no more than five or six pieces of paper, none classified or top-secret. Just a routine request. For this the U.S. government charged me $158. Memo to journalists who plan to do this in the future: They don’t call it the Freedom of Information Act because it’s free.

3. As for the publishers and filmmakers: Here’s a tip for any writers who may be thinking of doing their own test of The Secret. Do not try this test during a month when publishers are getting ready for, going to or recovering from hangovers acquired at the year’s biggest trade show, BookExpo America. You’re cooked if Tina Brown is promoting a new book on Princess Diana when you’re trying to get the Universe to notice you.

4. My novels didn’t budge in the Amazon rankings, but The Accidental Bride did get a really nice mention on a books-of-the-week list at the Bensenville Community Public Library in Bensenville, Illinois, which is featuring books about “brides, bridesmaids, wedding planners, and everyone’s favorite, bridezillas.” Bless you, Bensenville.

5. I got a great idea for a soccer-novel series that could be written by a writer friend who coaches youth soccer if only he’d give up his other work. This wouldn’t make money for me could make millions for him. I told my friend about my idea, and he sent me an e-mail message headed, “Are you mad?” I’m still hoping he’ll see the genius of it. When his millions start rolling in, maybe he’ll take me to lunch to thank me.

Finally, I did get some great links from bloggers about my posts on The Secret and other books. Thank you! A book typically takes at least eight or nine months to reach stores after an author turns in a manuscript. So you can be sure that none of bestsellers and other books I’ve written about have achieved their success because their authors tapped into a wacko “law of attraction.” Except, of course, for The Secret.

You can also follow Janice Harayda on Twitter at

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

April 16, 2007

Famous Pulitzer Losers – 10 Great Novels That Didn’t Win the Fiction Prize and Which Books Beat Them

The Great Gatsby didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and neither did these modern classics

By Janice Harayda

Sorry your favorite novel lost the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road? Consider this: The judges for the 1930 prize looked at Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and gave the fiction award to … Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge. And those classics are hardly alone in having been snubbed. Some noteworthy losers and the novels that won the Pulitzer instead in the years listed:

Loser: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Winner: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor

Loser: Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
Winner: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

Loser: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Winner: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

Loser: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Winner: Nobody. No award given.

Loser: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
Winner: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Losers: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Winner: Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge

Loser: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Winner: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Loser: The Great Gatsby
Winner: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis


Loser: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
Winner: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

« Previous Page

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: