A quick post, as near a rant as Stuck-in-a-Book is ever likely to get. Blurbs! I work in publishing, and I’m now used to writing content which needs to fulfil a purpose and tone, so I get it, I see why blurbs have to exist (although I try not to read them, as they give away far too much). Today I found the worst blurb ever.
It’s on the NYRB Classics edition of Adolfo Bioy Casares’ Asleep in the Sun (more on that soon). Well, it gives it enormous swathes of plot – including a major reveal which happens on p.161 of 173pp. And, worse, it gets the plot wrong. I don’t want to spoil the book for you (unlike the writers of that blurb…) but basically it says that a big transformative event happens, and it doesn’t. A vaguely similar, but significantly different, event happens instead.
Having finished the book, I can see why someone might have skimmed it to write the copy…
What are your thoughts on blurbs? Do you find them useful? I always avoid introductions before reading a book, because they invariably give away far too much, but it looks like I’ll have to add blurbs to that list – I usually decide whether or not I want to read a book (if it’s entirely unknown to me) by flicking a few pages in and sampling the text, instead of the blurb.
And can you think of any terrible culprits of dreadful blurb-ing? (And, oh, how I have come to hate the word ‘blurb’ while writing this post…)