Most helpful critical review
27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Good idea, poor writing
on January 9, 2002
I bought this book because I needed a quick refresher in American Literature for my M.A. comprehensive exam. I was delighted when, upon early reading, I discovered that the book delivers a bounty of facts in an easy-to-read, easy-to-remember fashion. But then I came upon a few things that were just outright wrong, not the least of these being that Ben Franklin was born in Philly. True, that isn't a big deal when one looks at the larger scope of what the author has done, and that is to provide an interesting survey of American Literature. But if she gets this fact wrong, how far does the misinformation go? The lesson: Evaluate your sources carefully. The second complaint I have with this book is that while it is a literature guide for the rest of us, Rozakis has taken the concept of "complete idiot" a little too far in her tone. Kudos to her for not using obscure speech to make herself and her subject appear above the common folk, but when a writer resorts to using the phrase "cling like a cheap suit" not once but twice within the space of the first 100 pages of the book, that should be a signal of someone with poor command over the English language.
Criticism aside, if you buy this book and read it, you'll find the layout marvelous, the "litwit" callouts fascinating, and the presentation of the material interesting. But as even the author would probably suggest, don't take this as the ultimate source for American literature. It wasn't meant for that.
As you read this book, just keep in mind, "What would Mark Twain say about this?"