Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bad Blurbs, Good Books

The economist Brad DeLong puts forth an interesting "parlor game" on his blog: write the worst blurb you can imagine for the best book you can think of. It's an illuminating exercise, because it helps one realize a couple of things:

1.) that "literary" is really a perceptive filter, a sort of lighting effect that casts a work as somehow Important.

2.) that even works of high literature are propelled by plots. When you strip them down to that level, some etherial classics have rather down-to-earth dynamics at their core.

DeLong's bad blurb for Lord of the Rings is priceless: 
Plucky heros travel across a fantasy world, encountering strange creatures and languages (invented by the author!) to destroy a magic artifact, while being pursued by Minions of the Dark Lord.

(Note: I do have to point out one thing, though: These aren't really "blurbs", per se. A blurb is a dollop of praise, doled out by one author for another. These are imagined instances of jacket copy, which pursues an enticing precĂ­s of the story within the covers. There's a difference, but the exercise remains worthwhile.)


blog template by : header hand photo by Aaron Murphy