Blurb Blerg

Back with another Ryan Adams post. One of the books I’m currently reading is Infinity Blues, a 2009 collection of some of Adams’ poetry. So far, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a guy who has become infamous for his prolific songwriting and tortured soul. The poems are often brilliant, occasionally uneven, usually pained, rarely boring, and always, always, about the girl (whichever one she may be).

This post isn’t about what’s inside the book I’m reading, however. It’s about what’s on the outside. Specifically, the blurbs on this book’s cover. For some reason, I can’t stop reading them. There’s one on the front from Cameron Crowe, and ones on the back from Stephen King, Mary-Louise Parker, and Eileen Myles. Each of the blurbs is typical in its unadulterated and hyperbolic praise, as well as in providing a brief description about the individual giving the praise. Here’s the first sentence from the blurb by Stephen King.

“Ryan Adams, one of America’s most consistently interesting singer/songwriters, has written a passionate, arresting and entertaining book of verse…” —Stephen King, author of Duma Key

Pretty standard fare, really. Stuff that you often ignore after you’ve decided to read the book, if not out of hand from the very beginning. Yet these blurbs are bugging the shit out of me. Even though it is common practice, and I see it all the time, it’s bugging me that there are descriptions after the blurb-givers name. I don’t like reading, “Stephen King, author of Duma Key.” I understand that the value of the blurb is in the person giving it. I get that. Sometimes the comparison or the recommendation will even get me to buy a book from an unfamiliar author. But I know who Stephen King is. Is there anyone in the western world over the age of 16 who doesn’t know who Stephen King is? More importantly, is there anyone considering buying a book of poetry by an alt-country singer songwriter who doesn’t know who Stephen King is? There are two other living English authors who have sold as many books as King (Danielle Steel and J.K. Rowling). Is it really necessary to mention the title of his four hundredth book, as if that is what will trigger an, “oh, that guy!” response and lead to me buying the poetry of Ryan Adams? Or is that the whole point, the reward for an individual writing a blurb for a book? To get their newest product mentioned? If so, it looks like Mary-Louise Parker, actress, and Cameron Crowe, filmmaker, haven’t been doing a damn thing with their lives. Get back to work, you fucking slackers.

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