A writer of blurbs has spoken out about his love of the book he’s going to write a blurb about probably on Thursday. ‘This is a really great book and I defy anyone who has read it to disagree,’ he said. ‘It has enough tension/pathos/frank scenes/surprise/funny lines/poignant characters/page-turning plot lines/stunning photography/strange illustration/observations on the absurdity of human ambition and fine writing to fill a library. This is the author on top of his or her game.’
The blurb writer confessed: ‘I’m amazed at how much I love all the books I am paid to write blurbs about. They’re all first class reads that are sure to appeal to modern readers as well as those who are devoted to the traditions of excellent narrative-building. These are books by writers who really know their business.’
But Irene Smythe of Waterstones in Ryde highlighted the challenges faced by customers who take book blurbs at face value: ‘Isle of Wight readers have sometimes complained to me that while the blurbs in the store are uniformly enticing, the books are of varied quality. This is the bookseller’s eternal problem, alongside customers who make jokes about wanting a book by a man called Hartley and people who want to use the toilet but fail to buy the latest blockbuster by the woman who wrote the one about people hitting each other just before sexual intercourse.’
Speaking near the display of aprons bearing the slogan: ‘If you can read this read something else afterwards,’ Ms Smythe argued: Effectively we’re promoting stories blurb writers have made up that appear on the covers of even more made up stories. It’s a tissue of lies, and I don’t mean the kind of tissue we sell in tiny packets near the fridge magnets we’d rather you didn’t ejaculate into without buying the latest Nigella or Jamie or Inspector Morose spin-off.
We put Irene Smythe’s views to our blurb writer and he said: ‘This is stream of consciousness (or should I say scream of consciousness?) rhetorical provocation at its finest. Book lover or no, you cannot fail to be stimulated by Irene Smythe’s latest caustic criticism of a much maligned aspect of literary life at which few critics would give a second glance. Smythe’s arguments are original and wittily made by a bookshop assistant with a real feel for what matters in the world of letters, and an iron grip on who should and shouldn’t be allowed to use the shop’s carefully maintained bathroom facilities.’