Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Famous for fifteen words

Adam Villani (Gentleman) was kind enough to point out, in the comments on the old UTC, that the recent paperback edition of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink features a blurb from yours truly. I have not asked him why he read three pages deep into the list of probably 30+ reviewer quotes that precedes the book text proper, and over which any reasonable person would skip with glazed eyes.

One of the non-lucrative but highly ego-gratifying side benefits of being a critic is being blurbed. Since I practice the art form only occasionally, I rarely get the rush. Occasionally an author or publisher will feature a quote from my review on their website; Jennifer Egan, Carolyn Parkhurst, Patrick Rothfuss, etc. In my own field of theology, I occasionally get contacted to read a book and provide a blurb for the jacket. Jeff McCloud tells me that a quote from my review of Rick Prelinger's Field Guide To Sponsored Films (the bedside-table equivalent of crack cocaine) will appear in the advertisement for that publication in the new box set Treasures III: Social Issues In American Film.

Given his prolific output, eclectic tastes, and frankly, better writing and more refined critical skills, Noel gets blurbed a lot more than me, unsurprisingly. It's not uncommon that band/label PR packages arrive in the mail with quotes or even a full reviews from Noel included. Until one of us gets a cover quote on a DVD package, however, Dear Husband retains the blurbing prize. His name may not be on it, but that's his authoritative declaration above the title of the paperback edition of Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. I used the book in my criticism writing class last semester, and when students asked, I confirmed Noel's authorship. In terms of making the work of a critic seem worthwhile, a whole semester of discussion about the art of criticism paled before that fact.


Adam Villani said...

The Klosterman is yet another book that I've actually read. Although that one, I actually read in the cheesiest way possible, by reading several chapters at a time on successive visits to Borders. They must hate "customers" like me.

I've been reading more lately, the past couple of years, but I still consider myself a really slow reader. Not in the sense that I have difficulty reading, it's just that getting all the way through a book usually takes me a few weeks because I'll set it down for a few days, or only read a few pages at night before going to sleep, that sort of thing.

I was really proud of myself a few months ago for finally finishing Moby-Dick*, which I had first picked up to read probably eight years before, and which took me something like 9 months to read even once I had picked up a more legible copy and started over in earnest.

In the last two months, I've read 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point," Ben Marcus's "The Age of Wire and String," and, um, something else I'm forgetting at the moment. I've also started on "Blink," and I have two cross-country flights in the next week, so I'll probably finish that, too.

Adam Villani said...

Oh, yeah, umm, I figured that I'd read the whole blurb section because, well, I generally read single pages of blurbs, and then I saw that they kept going on, so I figured I kind of had to read the rest, and while yeah, I sort of skimmed it, I did see Donna;s name.