The Friday Review, an institution around here for weeks now, takes a different turn this time. Yes, a few titles will be mentioned in the last paragraph, so if you’re in a hurry, skip the middle parts. James Marcus wrote an article in last Sunday’s WaPO about the unplanned release of Amazon’s anonymous reviewers. They named names; it turns out that quite a few authors were reviewing their own work. He didn’t say whether the reviews were all positive; some were dragooned loved ones, and you could imagine the tension at the breakfast table if a significant other had written a snarky brutally honest review. Buck up. Harriet still loves you.
The new trend in reviewing is blurbing. Blurbs are fun and easy to create. Take a word like incandescent, add an exclamation point. Incandescent! Try adding an adverb. Really Incandescent! Keep practicing. If nothing else General Electric might sign you up as a copywriter.
It appears that the blogosphere is the last great hope for writers. Book jackets now feature lists of authors and their blurbs without revealing the minutest detail about the subject. Is it a mystery, a romance, a biography? If you’re in a book store try orienting yourself to the section of the store you find yourself in. Look for a sign…Protozoan Wellness or something. Match the book in your hand with the overhead sign. If you’re doing this in a mall, watch out for Mall Security. They have pepper spray.
Oprah cast a long shadow over the Book Kingdom this week. As reported by MJ Rose, many living authors want her to turn away from the dead ones and revive her bookclub. No more Jon Franzen incidents. Rumor is Oprah will start her own imprint. It’s not clear if she’ll move to Los Angeles. She may already live there. LA is being prepped for an infusion of culture and the timing couldn’t be better. Bud Parr is doing a great job covering classical material; Oprah, leave it to Bud.
I’m reading Wesley Stace’s Misfortune. Joshilyn Jackson’s gods in Alabama is in the TBR pile. One book I found enjoyable was Biz Stone’s Who Let the Blogs Out. It was released last November by St. Martins. The book’s a very readable brief history of how blogging got started, plus some technical pointers for beginners.
Finally, on a personal note, I’ve entered the Nevermore contest. As ably reported by Sarah, the folks at Partners N Crime bookstore in Manhattan are having the annual Better Dead than Read event featuring terrible opening paragraphs in Hardboiled, Cozy, and Historical categories. I don’t know if there’s a prize. I don’t know if it’s such a good idea to enter this contest, let alone win, but Sarah has the link if you’re game.