Elle December Reader’s Prize

So in the December issue of Elle, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry was chosen as the favorite among three titles in the first round of the magazine’ Readers’ Prize 2008.

For those of you who don’t read this at the salon, here’s how it works: The magazine gives 15 readers three pre-selected books that they must read and report on within three weeks. At the end of each year (in the December issue), there’s a final reckoning and one non-fiction and one fiction title is chosen for the Grand Prix. Three other books make the short list.

The whole thing really demands an Oscar-like “It’s just an honor to be chosen among the three,” which is absolutey true. I mean, consider the company: Service Included: Four-star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch and The Lost Ravioli Recies of Hoboken by Laura Schenone. (She won a James Beard prize for her book, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove.)
So the lead in notes that Sharper “handily won” over the other titles. The conflict I feel is that I really enjoyed both reading Phoebe’s book and meeting her at the Texas Book Festival. (I just picked up Schenone’s book this week; I haven’t read it yet.) The other thing it displalys is how difficult it is to weave personal story into a food narrative. Most of the negative comments on all three books were not about the book’s handling of food, but when they shifted into personal relationships.

And brings up this pesky issue of reviews when you’ve penned a memoir. It’s lovely when people say nice things about your book. In this case, one reader noted “…Flinn’s journey is funny, romantic and mouthwatering.”

But when someone criticizes a characer or an aspect of the story, it’s tough. They are real people, not made up fictional puppets. The story is true. Thus, the happiness of the whole thing was offset by one reader’s reference to Mike as my “utterly nondescript boyfriend.” Ugh.
With the good, you take the bad. Anyway, here’s a smattering of reviews from various sources.
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