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Backhanded Blurbs December 9, 2009

Posted by caveblogem in Other.

Seems like I’ll read anything these days.  It definitely takes me longer to read books that don’t interest me, but that is not enough to stop me from reading them.  The last two books seem to have been sitting on my dresser for a long time, long enough for me to actually look at the marketing blurbs on their covers.  and I noticed something odd.

First, we have The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, by Storm Constantine, which is taking me forever to slog through.  (I’m definitely in the wrong demographic for this one, wrong age and, I suspect, the wrong sexual preference.)  On the cover is only one sales blurb: “A tremendously impressive first novelist,” it says.  Ms. Constantine went on to a prolific career, publishing dozens of novels, but I think this was the only first novel she wrote.  But I’m no expert.   Setting aside the question of whether someone can be a “first novelist,” it is a shame that they couldn’t find anyone willing to say something positive about her book.  Maybe the reviewer was saying that, although impressive, she will always be a first novelist.

Next (actually not intended as a joke) we have Michael Crichton’s last (not a joke either) novel. (Unless Dr. Crichton has some posthumous scribblings I am unaware of, there will not be a sequel to Next.) The blurb in question is the only one on the cover of the book consisting of more than one word (which I’m sure you realize can be so much more easily taken out of context than a phrase) is the following: “As entertaining as anything he has written since Jurassic Park.” This phrase is rendered on the cover in all caps, but I couldn’t bring myself to reproduce it here like that, particularly given the context.  And I suspect that the Dallas Morning News did not print the review in all caps either.  At any rate, imagine this quote read by Eeyore.  It can be taken more than one way, is what I mean to say.

So, I find myself wondering if that is the real secret to becoming a widely read reviewer of media, that liminality or hidden ambivalence or whatever it is.


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