Friday, May 04, 2007

Kjell Eriksson / Blurb comparisons, far-fetched and otherwise

Time constraints and fatigue prevent a full review for now, but I thought I'd say a word about critics' invocation of Ed McBain when discussing Kjell Eriksson. The comparison is apt, but Eriksson takes the ensemble approach farther in The Princess of Burundi. Killers, neighbors, workers, wives and lovers get their say in addition to police, the shifts in point of view evoking a reader's sympathy for all but the very worst characters.
The surprising though apt association of McBain and Eriksson brought to mind the question of odd blurbs. The ones that make me roll my eyes fall into three categories: invocations of Raymond Chandler (I would pay good money to read a book-jacket blurb along the lines of: "This exciting new crime novelist, whose work is not in the least reminiscent of Raymond Chandler's ... "), strained comparisons ("If Borges wrote chick lit, this is the chick-lit novel he would have written"), and testimonials that collapse under their own weight ("Take a touch of James Joyce, a dash of Kafka, a soupcon of Dashiell Hammett, a sprinkling of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, a dose of William S. Burroughs, a pinch of Georges Simenon, a spoonful of P.G. Wodehouse, a samovar of Tolstoy, a snifter of Agatha Christie, and a thunderclap of the Old Testament, and you have just a hint of what this scintillating debut is like.")
Readers, the floor is yours. What is the weirdest book blurb you have ever seen?

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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5 Comments:

Blogger dave_lull said...

I can't think of any weird blurbs offhand, but a couple of years ago while looking for something about the work of blurbmaster Richard Howard I did run across James Marcus's reference to William Safire's brief examination of the language of blurbing in his column "Blurbosphere."

May 13, 2007  
Blogger dave_lull said...

Did you ever wonder how Ken Bruen would blurb his own book? Well, he does that right here.

May 13, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks for weighing in, Dave. You are, after all, an acclaimed blogger.

That Safire column made odd reading, both for the reasons James Marcus cites and because, if anything is odder than an author blurbing his own book, it's what Safire did in his column. I'd also brag if a Saul Bellow praised my work, but I wouldn't try to cloak the bragging as an appreciation of Bellow's fine and correct use of adjectives.

I'd read Ken Bruen's hypothetical self-blurb. What would that man do if he stopped writing for even five minutes?

May 13, 2007  
Blogger dave_lull said...

An account of the origin of the word 'blurb' can be found here.

May 21, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I slapped my head figuratively when I read your comment and the article to which it links. I knew Gelett Burgess had coined the word although, if pressed, I might have absentmindedly said the coiner was Ambrose Bierce.

Of course, the explanation leaves er, unexplained why the name Belinda Blurb was chosen.

May 21, 2007  

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