exercises in compound storytelling

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I am not a blurb reader. On the rare occasion that I look at anything other than the title and price when deciding whether to buy a book in a bookstore I look for a summary of the book, not a blurb. I realize that sometimes the blurbs are written by people who have read the book carefully, but those are rare: the blurbs are usually chosen for the value the blurb-writer's name lends the book, and that the blurb writer is often offered a pick list of candidate blurbs and asked to pick and possibly modify one of the candidates.

Often the blurb doesn't refer to the book itself, but rather to another book by the same author; I don't know if this is a warning sign (didn't anyone take the time to read the book I'm holding in my hand?) or a suggestion that the author is giving me more of the same (e.g. Gone With The Wind II: Even Goner, or Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance II: Phaedrus Freaks Out).

What brings this to mind is a review of a children's book here that quotes four of the blurbs. I guess I'd come to believe that nobody over the age of twenty-five or so reads blurbs, much less believed them.

This sort of ties into the theme I'm working on about celebrity Christians and the question of what it means to be (or not be) "one of those" Christians. Justin Taylor, whose article I've linked above, mostly links to articles by various celebrity Christians and offers little comment: in the crassest terms, they're pushing product and he's a popularizer. In Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point terminology, he's a connector. Or might be.

I don't mean to suggest that R. C. Sproul endorsed this book without reading it; I'm just surprised to see someone take his blurb seriously, much less parse it.

And maybe this is because I'm not one of those kinds of Christians, by which I mean the ones that take something seriously just because it's said by a celebrity Christian they trust.

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