Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On being sucked in by those enticing cover blurbs...

This keeps on happening to me, and usually the culprit (not the right word but it'll do) is Dave Eggers. I adore Eggers, absolutely adore him. I will read anything he writes. Yup, even the self indulgent too long rambles, even the too short (not very good sometimes) flash fiction, all of it. And I will find value in it.
I think he is amazing too in his generosity to other writers, through McSweeney's and in interviews and so on. But why oh why does he insist on putting quotes on the front of sooooo many books? Then I see the blurb and think, oh, Dave Eggers recommends this, it must be good, and I buy it and invariably hate it. Why do I think that tho'? I have bought several editions of McSweeney's, and aesthetically scrumptious as they are, the content often leaves me cold.

It's not just him to blame, I recently bought a paperback for £11.99 (extraordinarily expensive) because the cover blurb was by Ali Smith, so I saw it as an endorsement of extreme quality. When I began to read however, I thought, well, it's okay I suppose, but not great, and definitely not worth that much money.

Lesson to self; do not be swayed by those you admire, for their tastes are not yours.

(Just off to read my latest purchase, not only is it recommended by Eggers, but he name checks my hugest writer crush Lorrie Moore, it had better be amazing!)

3 comments:

Goncalo Veiga said...

True post! That's always been a curiousity of mine: how some authors manage to have these writers' references on the back cover of their books. I once saw a documentary on some tv cable channel and they alleged that this is good for both the new writer and for the established one, ie. publicity.

I guess I've been pretty lucky with this writer I just adore, Charles Bukowski: thanks to him I've researched and read John Fante, Hemingway, Saroyan and I'm still looking forward to reading Knut Hamson. And, to my amazement, I've loved them all!

kellie said...

I'm a bit suspicious of these blurbs. I suspect that there's a lot of calling in of favours from publishers and agents going on.

I also employ a policy of avoiding any book where the blurb contains the phrase "a tour de force".

Sara said...

Kellie - oh absolutely...whilst I would dearly like to believe that all writers are scrupulous in their recommendations and only blurb on those they regard highly, I know that's not true. But Dave? Of course he's a good guy, he wouldn't do that, would he?

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