Girl Crazy, Lame Book Blurbing


Ask The Paris Review

Girls. I’m girl crazy. It’s ’cause it’s summer. I’d like to calm myself down. What should I do? —Ronnie

Oh, Ronnie. One feels you. I take it you’ve tried self-love and cold showers? If all else fails and you hear the first garbage trucks and all you want is a moment of oblivion—of surcease—what you need is boring books. I keep a stash for just such occasions:

A History of the United States During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson, by Henry Adams. My intellectual friends tell me it’s a masterpiece. I have never got past page six.

The Education of a Gardener, by Russell Page: “Were I working out a rectangular theme, for instance, I would not hesitate to introduce diagonals or curves if these were justified by expediency, or if their introduction contributed to reinforce that same theme by contrast. On the contrary, a composition all curves and irregular forms might well demand certain rigidities, certain angularities in detail are you listening to me ronnie no you are not because you are fast asleep.”

The Complete Guide to Furniture Styles, by Louise Ade Boger. This one is new to my collection. I got it off the two-dollar cart at the Strand last week and already I have found it an indispensible settler of the mind. I know what you’re thinking: for a diseased one-track Bonobo like yourself, it’s only the tiniest baby-step from furniture to sex. Trust me. Ms. Boger is an artist. She was bored writing the thing, bored shitless from sentence one, and she manages to communicate that feeling to the reader in real time. To say The Complete Guide to Furniture Styles is 427 pages long is to say nothing. The pages are giant; the text bicolumniar; the black-and-white plates, for all intents and purposes, useless. Reading The Complete Guide is like popping six Ambien and hitting yourself on the head with a brick.

I’d like to ask one of my favorite writers to coffee or a drink, with the hope that maybe he’ll blurb my new book. Is that totally, completely lame? —S. Gery.

Yes, my friend, that is lame. In my experience blurbs almost never sell books. The person they matter most to is the writer. But if you want your hero’s approval, wouldn’t you rather have it on the merits? Send him a copy of the finished book with a note saying, in concrete detail, what his writing has meant to you. Authors almost never get such disinterested praise; you’ll have done the two of you a mitzvah.

Have a question for The Paris Review? E-mail us.