One-Minute Book Reviews

March 11, 2008

‘There’s No Such Thing As a Private Conversation’ in New Jersey Politics — Quote of the Day From James McGreevey’s ‘The Confession’

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:02 pm
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From one governor to another …

“One of the cardinal rules of New Jersey politics is, there’s no such thing as a private conversation. Governor [Brendan] Byrne once told me this, as though imparting a philosophical truth from the ages. ‘Somewhere along the line,’ he said, ‘you are going to be taped by someone wearing a wire.’ This is who so many political meetings start with a big bear hug – a New Jersey pat down among friends.”

From The Confession (Regan, 2006) by James E. McGreevey, the former New Jersey governor who resigned his post after outing himself as a “gay American,” in a memoir written with David France www.harpercollins.com.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

November 28, 2007

Read All the Passages Shortlisted for the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award Here

Just found a link to all the passages shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the U.K-based Literary Review, won Tuesday by Norman Mailer‘s The Castle in the Forest, which defeated books by Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson and others. The Guardian (formerly the Manchester Guardian) has them here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2217735,00.htm

That link will take you to them, but if it doesn’t work for you, just Google “Guardian + Bad Sex Awaard Shortlisted Passages.” Still haven’t found a YouTube upload of the reading of the offending lines that preceded the announcement of the winner. The finalists included Gary Shteyngart‘s Absurdistan, shown here.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

November 27, 2007

Norman Mailer Wins 2007 Bad Sex Award for ‘The Castle in the Forest’

[This post has been updated. A link to the bad-sex scene that won appears at the end of the post.]

The late Norman Mailer has won the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the U.K.-based Literary Review for his novel The Castle in the Forest www.randomhouse.com, beating Ali Smith, David Thewlis and other finalists. I can’t get the direct link to the BBC post on the award to work from One-Minute Book Reviews. (The URL is news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7115451/.) But you can find the BBC post by Googling its headline, “Late Mailer wins ‘bad sex’ award.” (Sounds like he didn’t mail his application on time, doesn’t it?) You may also want to read the post just before this one on One-Minute Book Reviews, which has the shortlist for the Bad Sex Award and a link to a few lines from Smith’s bad writing on sex.

Update at 7:20 p.m., Eastern Time: Hooray! Just got this link from impatientreaderdotcom (see the comments section) to the lines by Mailer that won the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award. (The winning passage was supposed to have been read aloud by an actress before the announcement. Anybody have a link to a YouTube or other video clip of the reading?) The following link provided by impatientreaderdotcom may look “off” but will take you right to a priceless passage from Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest that begins: “His mouth lathered with her sap …” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7115451.stm

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

 

‘Sex in Ian McEwan’s Novel Is Not Bad Enough to Impress Judges’ of 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, Times of London Reports — Here’s the Shortlist

[Note: A post with the name of the winner follows in five minutes.]

Ian McEwan is safe — at least until One-Minute Book Reviews considers the candidates for its next Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books, the winner of which will be announced on the Ides of March. The online edition of the Times of London reports that McEwan’s longlisted On Chesil Beach didn’t make the shortlist for the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

The newspaper says that the finalists who swept past McEwan are: Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods, Richard Milward’s Apples, Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy, David Thewlis’s The Late Hector Kipling, the late Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest, Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan, Christopher Rush’s Will and Clare Clark’s The Nature of Monsters. The winner will be announced today after the offending passages are read aloud by actresses. Read the Times post, headlined “Ses in Ian McEwan’s Novel Is Not Bad Enough to Impress Judges.”

www.entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article2951176.ece

November 23, 2007

Ian McEwan Makes Longlist for Bad Sex in Fiction Award As Expected, Along With Norman Mailer and Jeanette Winterson

Read the list of the nominees for the 2007 Bad Sex in Fiction Award and the lines that may have qualified On Chesil Beach for it

By Janice Harayda

Call me Nostradamus.

Back in August, when a lot of people couldn’t stop praising Ian McEwan’s overrated On Chesil Beach, I wrote that “McEwan aggressively courts a Bad Sex in Fiction Award from the Literary Review” with the novel www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/. I raised the possibility of the Bad Sex Award again when McEwan made the shortlist for the 2007 Man Booker Prize for Fiction (“Does Ian McEwan Deserve the Man Booker Prize or a Bad Sex Award for Writing Like This? You Be the Judge”) www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/.

The Literary Review has just announced the longlist for the 2007 Bad Sex Award, meant to “draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description … and to discourage it” in modern literary novels (not pornograhy or erotica). And who’s on it? McEwan, along with Norman Mailer, Jeanette Winterson and others. Here’s the longlist:

Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods

Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach

Richard Milward’s Apples

Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy

Maria Peura’s At the Edge of Light

James Delingpole’s Coward on the Beach

David Thewlis’s The Late Hector Kipling

Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest

Quim Monzo’s The Enormity of the Tragedy

Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan

Christopher Rush’s Will

Claire Clark’s The Nature of Monsters

Nobody seems yet to have a list of the passages that won their authors a spot on the longlist for the award, the winner of which will be named on Nov. 27. But these lines from On Chesil Beach (Doubleday/Nan Talese, $22) quoted in my August 10 post, should have qualified McEwan easily (page 24 in the first U.S. edition):

“Like most young men of his time, or any time, without an easy manner, or means to sexual expression, he indulged constantly in what one enlightened authority was now calling ‘self-pleasuring’ … How extraordinary it was, that a self-made spoonful, leaping clear of his body, should instantly free his mind to confront afresh Nelson’s decisiveness at Aboukir Bay.”

Thanks to the Nov. 23 Literary Saloon www.complete-review.com/saloon/ for a link to a post on the Bookseller www.thebookseller.com that had the list. When is the Literary Review www.literaryreview.co.uk going to post the qualifying passages?

By the way, you can’t use the “Search Inside This Book” tool on Amazon www.amazon.com to find those lines from On Chesil Beach that I quoted, because the people at Doubleday/Nan Talese haven’t enabled it for the book. Those spoilsports.

Janice Harayda www.janiceharayda.com is an award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and a vice-president for awards of the National Book Critics Circle.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

November 16, 2007

I Belong to the ‘Tribe of Chronic Masturbators,’ Says the Hero of ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,’ Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

By Janice Harayda

Remember how upset some librarians got when the word “scrotum” appeared on the first page of the 2007 Newbery Medal winner www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/02/19/? I wonder what they’re going say to when they find out that the hero of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian says that he belongs to “the tribe of chronic masturbators.”

Alexie’s novel won National Book Award for Young People’s Literature on Wednesday, so it’s safe to say that it will also receive consideration for the Newbery that the American Library Association www.ala.org will hand out in January. I’ll review the book in the next week or so (along with Daughter of York, originally scheduled for this week).

Until then librarians who want to check out that “good part” can do it by going to the listing for the novel on Amazon www.amazon.com and using the “Search Inside This Book” tool to search for “tribe of chronic masturbators,” which appears on page 217. [Note: All you teenage boys who found this site by searching for “scrotum” or “masturbation,” go back to your Social Studies. That page number was a public service for librarians.]

Oh, am I going to have fun reviewing this book! Please bookmark this site or subscribe to the RSS feed if you’d like to read my comments.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

August 26, 2007

Snogging and Blogging in Bruna Surfistinha’s ‘The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl’

Raquel Pacheco, a prostitute who worked under the name Bruna Surfistinha, blogged about her clients’ sexual performance

The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl. By Bruna Surfistinha/Raquel Pacheco. Interviewed by Jorge Tarquini. Translated by Alison Entrekin. Bloomsbury USA, 176 pp., $14.95.

By Janice Harayda

Raquel Pacheco writes about as well as Henry James would have run a brothel. This isn’t surprising given that she was a high school dropout and unknown teenage prostitute in Brazil until she started blogging about her clients’ sexual performance.

Then all hell broke loose – hell being, in this case, a book contract, a movie deal and write-ups in newspapers like the New York Times. But the prose doesn’t exactly sizzle in this memoir of her several years as a prostitute who used the name Bruna Surfistinha (“Bruna the Little Surfer Girl”). (Writing sample: “Yay! Finally someone invited me to a swingers’ club!!!”) Pacheco, now in her early 20s. says she quit prostitution just before her 21st birthday. And her memoir reads the way your high school diary might if you’d had much more sex and kept score in Portuguese, then had your words translated it into British English, so that people kept asking you questions like, “How ’bout a wank?”

Pacheco intersperses tales of turning tricks with details of her well-off but troubled childhood, marked by bulimia, truancy and shoplifting. Partly for this reason, her book isn’t sexy enough to be erotica or single-minded enough to be pornography. Nor does it have much to offer in the way of advice. A brief section of sex tips tells you little more women’s magazines do. (Try different rooms, like the kitchen.) And the advice seems pitched to people decades behind Americans in their views on sex. “Some people think sex should be like in porn films: the guy wildly banging the girl as if he were drilling through asphalt,” she writes. Don’t they get reruns of Sex and the City in Brazil and know how mercilessly that show would have lampooned those people?

Best line: “Love is blind, deaf and mindless. But mute, never.

Worst line (tie): No. 1: “In almost three years in this business, by my count, I think I’ve had sex with more than 1,000 men. In theory it might not sound like a lot …” No. 2: “I’m a Spiritualist, because I believe that on the ‘other side’ there is everything we have here. Even hospitals.”

Caveat lector: This review was based on an advance reading copy. Some material in the finished book may differ.

Published: February 2007 (first American edition). June 2007 (paperback edition).

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

Bruna Surfistinha’s Call Girl Diary, Tomorrow on One-Minute Book Reviews

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“SAO PAOLO. She goes by the name Bruna, the Little Surfer Girl, and gives new meaning to the phrase ‘kiss and tell.’ First in a blog that quickly became the country’s most popular and now in a best-selling memoir, she has titillated Brazilians and become a national celebrity with her graphic, day-by-day accounts of life as a call girl here.

“But it is not just her canny use of the Internet that has made Bruna, whose real name is Raquel Pacheco, a cultural phenomenon … “

Larry Rohter in “She Who Controls Her Body Can Upset Her Countrymen,” the New York Times, April 27, 2006.

A review of the American edition of Pacheco’s memoir, The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom, will appear tomorrow on One-Minute Book Review.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

August 22, 2007

A Review of ‘The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl’ Coming Soon to One-Minute Book Reviews

What! You want another review of one of those high-toned winners of the Pulitzer or Booker Prize or the Caldecott Medal? I haven’t reviewed enough of those for you? Have you forgotten that call girls, too, have an honored place in literature?

No, I’m not talking about the memoirs of the Mayflower Madam. I’m talking about Holly Golightly, a call girl in Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (though you wouldn’t know it from the movie we all love, anyway). So within the next week I’m reviewing The Scorpion’s Sweet Venom: The Diary of a Brazilian Call Girl (Bloomsbury, $14.95), just out in paperback. This memoir grew out of the online diary of former teenage prostitute Rachel Pacheco, who used the stage name of Bruna Surfistinha (“Bruna the Surfer Girl”). The publisher calls this book “an international sensation” by “the Paris Hilton of Brazil.” (Now there’s a recommendation! What will the publishing industry give us next, the memoirs of the Lindsay Lohan of Uruguay?) I believe I have a duty to review this book because when you actually go to Bruna’s famous blog and try to see what the fuss is all about … it’s in Portuguese! I ask you: What good does that do American teenage boys? So check back if you can’t live without knowing more about this one. And — who knows? — if the publishing industry does give us the memoirs of the Lindsay Lohan of Uruguay, I might review that, too, if I decide that you and I need a break from all those prize-winning authors like Ian McEwan www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

June 27, 2007

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

Filed under: Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:49 pm
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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 https://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/. I can’t link directly to the Newsweek and ABC excerpts, but you can find the same excerpt at www.randomhouse.com. 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 (www.myspace.com/hollypetersonthemanny) that you can find by going to www.myspace.com 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 https://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/15 . 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.

www.janiceharayda.com

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