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Booker Prize shortlist turns its back on ‘readability’

Last year's head judge, Dame Stella Rimington, was pilloried for saying she prized books that "people would read and enjoy". Her fellow judge, the former Labour MP Chris Mullin, added that he liked a novel to "zip along". The chairman of the 2012 judging panel, Sir Peter Stothard, has loftier ideals. "I felt very, very strongly that I wanted to avoid that thing where people say, 'Wow, I loved it, it's terrific'," he said of the judging process. "I'm afraid quite a lot of what counts for criticism these days is of that sort: how many stars did it get? Did I have a good time? Would my children like it? It is opinion masquerading as literary criticism," said Sir Peter, who is editor of the Times Literary Supplement.  To read full article: Our Thoughts: Let me first state the obvious - we are not in competition with the Booker Prize! We also do not wish to suggest that what they do is invalid. The Booker Prize means that the winners will become best sellers and yet are often not very "readable". Although we only work with self-published books, we have developed a system just the opposite of what this esteemed group of critics aspire to. Self- published books are often looked down upon as unworthy of traditional publication which we have proven, I believe, to not always be the case. We have readers located around the globe who read books for us and give us one determination –is this a book you would recommend to your best friend? When all the readers have provide their decision, we honor the book with our B.R.A.G.Medallion only if it has received a unanimous "Yes". In this way we are finding books that "readers" feel are worth your time and money. After all, most of us read to be amused, thrilled, titillated and, yes, educated. We hope to encourage readers who want to find a great book to visit our website and support books that are good but probably will not reach the glorified heights that one with the title of Booker Prize Winner will inevitably reach. www.bragmedallion.com

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PBS Documentary: Sheriff

Fact: SHERIFF follows the daily adventures of the larger-than-life character Sheriff Ronald W. Hewett in rural Brunswick County, North Carolina Premiered on PBS's Independent Lens SHERIFF follows the daily adventures of Sheriff Ronald E. Hewett as he tries to keep the peace in the rural community of Brunswick County, North Carolina. More than five years in the making, SHERIFF uses classic cinema verité techniques (excluding the interviews and music) to paint a detailed, intimate portrait of a dying breed of iconic Americana: the small-town sheriff trying to do good in a very bad world. We meet 38-year-old Sheriff Hewett doing what he is so often called upon to do: face the local news media under the harshest of conditions. In this case, it is a double murder in which two small children were also brutally injured. As mosquitoes buzz around his sweating face, Hewett delivers to the cameras sound byte after sound byte, before politely excusing himself so that he may be sick on the side of the road. Indeed, Hewett is the quintessential southern gentleman, a man whose easy smile, open sincerity and comforting southern accent invites the entire community to embrace him as part of their family. This is not entirely by chance—as a montage of Hewett business placards and road signs reveal, Hewett seems to be related to almost everyone in Brunswick County and is considered their favorite son. Some of this admiration stems from Hewett's bold modernization of the formerly backward, backwoods sheriff's department. (Before Hewett was elected in 1994, the sheriff's department wasn't even open after 5 PM). SHERIFF reveals the flawed but earnest human behind the Andy Griffith and Buford Pusser clichés. Hewett's daily struggles with justice, power and public opinion are not far removed from America's own struggles. In one of the film's most humorous scenes, Hewett raids a small-time video poker parlor and uses his intimidating charm to induce an employee to reveal the location of the cash earnings. Although he finds it difficult not to sympathize with some of the low-income denizens of Brunswick County, Hewett is convinced of his duty to clean up his homeland. After he corners one of the video poker owners, he delivers a speech so heroic it's hard to believe it wasn't scripted. Interspersed between these entertaining episodes are gentle interludes that capture the tones, textures and earthy serenity of the modern American South. Insects chirp over beautiful shots of twisted swampland. Corn stalks roar, rustled by the hot wind. The neon sign of a store advertising "Worms & Coffee" buzzes into the damp, dark night. These sequences look past the stereotype of the oft-mythologized South to show us places we all recognize: places of beauty, wildness and serenity. This serenity is all too often shattered. The centerpiece of SHERIFF is the brutal slaying of a 70-year-old attorney. Hewett arrives quietly and examines the bloody crime scene. Then once again he's thrust before the news media and delivers in his characteristic timbre the hard facts of the case as well as a plea for help in finding the killer. The ensuing investigation, which involves many of Hewett's officers, eventually frustrates Hewett when he finds they are not following orders to his precise specifications. But on the second day of the investigation, Hewett falls back into his comfortable good humor, even taking breaks to make sure all of his employees and volunteers are properly slathered in bug spray. Fiction: A Cold Snow In Castaway County  

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