Sunday, May 06, 2007

Misblurbing, did you say?

For someone who does blurbing for a living, this is interesting. I am not allowed to blurb most of the times because invariably, my blurbs and intros are not liked by the higher-ups. Which is not to say that I am anywhere close to the sort of misblurbing these publishers engage in:

It happened to me about 10 years ago. I had called David Sedaris’s memoir, Naked, a “tour-de-farce” in a review in Newsday. Shortly thereafter, the publisher ran an ad in which my 600-word review had been boiled down to one phrase: “tour de force”.

That's not all:

It happened to the Time magazine book critic Lev Grossman last October. Grossman says he was “quite taken aback” when he saw a full-page newspaper advertisement for Charles Frazier’s novel Thirteen Moons that included a one-word quotation—“Genius”—attributed to Time. Grossman was confused because his review “certainly didn’t have that word”. Eventually, he found it in a preview he had written a few months earlier, which included the sentence, “Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details.” As Grossman put it, “They plucked out the G-word.”

Thankfully, I do not work for the cut-throat PR machine within New York publishing, else I too would be required to leave better sense behind in my pursuit of a catchy (and apocryphal) representation.

Here is another, from a review in Hindu's Literary Review section this Sunday:

The book's blurb says, that it is "Lyrical, spare and charmingly self-deprecatory". Did they get their titles mixed up, or are we to be bombarded by these random clich├ęs every time a blurb-writer's well runs dry? In any case, it looks like everyone stays parched in this endeavour.


Returning to my blurbs not being appreciated, let me say that mine are perhaps too esoteric for some lay readers' tastes ;)

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