If you’re a regular listener, you know we like to have fun with blurbs, which are a necessary, or at least traditional, aspect of packaging a book but are also often the most ludicrous element of any book jacket (in fact, we enjoy blurbs so much that we’d love to write a blurb about you in exchange for a small donation).
Sometimes, in their eagerness to help a friend, colleague, or former student sell more books, blurbers will write something that may sound poetic and laudatory but is actually inane, inscrutable, and excessive.
This page exists to commemorate the best of bad blurbs: those blurbs that have infuriated us due to their mangling of the language, that have entertained us with their love of generic praise words like luminous and transcendent and breathtaking, that are comprised of mostly adverbs, that are so distractingly bad we can’t help laughing.
We’ll add to this periodically, but also invite you to submit the worst blurbs you encounter: send them to us at bookfightpod (at) gmail (dot) com, click the Fight Back link at the top of the page, or tweet at us @Book_Fight (please use #BadBlurbs so we can find it). One condition: it has to be a real, verifiable blurb that was written with good intentions; we only want to include unintentionally hilarious blurbs here, ones that seem to have been written with a straight face.
(updated 3/28: newest blurbs at the bottom)
“An acknowledged master of limning the Chekhovian mysteries of experience.” – The San Francisco Chronicle on Tessa Hadley’s Married Love: And Other Stories (P.S.)
“Jac Jemc’s My Only Wife operates with the calm, pristine clarity of an enormous marble room. In moving, methodically arranged sentences, one comes across the surpassing surfaces and relics of a kind of intimacy that seems an increasingly difficult proposition to rightly preserve. At last, here is a novel concerned with timeless dedication, love, and respect, which phrased through Jac Jemc’s steady warming eye needs no punchline or coincidence or cataclysm to give true glow to the glow itself.” – Blake Butler on Jac Jemc’s My Only Wife
“There is a special kind of magic in the writing of Laura van den Berg, a damp-eyed sorceress who blends the mythological with the everyday, buoyant playfulness with lacerating sadness. Each sentence reads like a beautiful bruise smeared across pages as pale as the bodies that so often strip off their clothes and tangle together in these tender, elegant stories.” – Benjamin Percy on Laura van den Berg’s What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Note: we discussed this book in episode 11, and specifically covered this blurb around the 28-minute mark)
“An intricate, poised, tingling debut. Harbach’s muscular prose breathes new life into the American pastime, recasts the personal worlds that orbit around it, and leaves you longing, lingering, and a baseball convert long after the last page.” – Tea Obreht on Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding
“Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.” – The Houston Chronicle on Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline
“The Third Translation has the complex twists of the passageways of an ancient tomb, but Matt Bondurant knows the path through and he leads us to a deeper chamber of treasure.” – Robert Olen Butler on Matt Bondurant’s The Third Translation: A Novel
“Stories like beautiful black diamonds. Someone has cut you while you were dreaming, slipped them into your muscles, your mind. You may never know just how you’ve been changed.” - Brad Watson on Yannick Murphy’s In a Bear’s Eye
“Gina Ochsner writes with the delight and knowing of a born conjurer. Her world is that liminal space, that disconnect, between nature and our lives–heaven’s winking outside the office window, grass pushing up around the casket, umbrellas opening like the great beating of wings.” – Carol Edgarian on Gina Ochsner’s The Necessary Grace to Fall
“Like one of his own characters, Yates is a bruha, endowed with magical vision that allows him to see the invisible strands of fate and luck that bind people to each other. He is also a sharpshooter, able to survey an entire city of millions, and then, in an instant, train his sights on an individual target, focusing with great precision on delicate movements of the head and the heart.” – Charles Yu on Alexander Yates’ Moondogs
“The Sun, with its superb photographs, is the only magazine that I sit down and read as soon as it arrives. It’s full of people like a Globe Theatre; it’s nourishing like a field of pumpkins; it’s like a grandfather who talks to total strangers.” -Robert Bly on The Sun Magazine