27 December 2018

Idiotic Book Blurbs

Writing blurbs for the covers of books reached Pythonesque heights of self-parody years ago, so to laugh at their idiocy is nothing new. Which doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

Here's one that merits ridicule as hyperbolic as itself:

----------- --------- writes with the unflinching, cumulatively devastating precision of Chekhov and Munro, peeling back layer after layer of illusion until we're left with the truth of ourselves. Practically every line is a revelation of language, of character, of experience; ------'s lyricism stalks our hearts like a gorgeous assassin.

In the first sentence we have the obligatory, tedious comparison to authors whom a duration of time longer than fifteen minutes has proved to be true masters of the short story. Then there's the cliche promise of illusions giving way to something as residually profound as 'the truth of ourselves.' More offensive, however, is the juxtaposition of the exponentially cliche 'peeling back layer after layer', suggesting subtraction, with 'cumulatively', suggesting addition. More is less, I can only conclude.

The first part of the second sentence would actually be quite fine, if the author had experienced a revelation about writing instead of using revelation in an attempt to bear witness to the perception of new truths. The final three clauses use both anaphora and asyndeton to good effect, with each noun one syllable longer than the one before it. Yet recovering this gem is rather like recovering illegal diamonds that a mule has swallowed. And the preposterous simile of the second part of the second sentence steals back with both hands the bounty the first half has given. 

It's even sadder of course that none of it's true. 


  1. I have no idea what this book is, but if I read a book like that I'd have to put it back on the shelf. There is no way anything like that could live up to its own billing.