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One of the earliest memories I can recall is riding around in my dad’s car while he sang, atrociously I might add, along to the Beatles. It was all down hill from there. Before I discovered how much I love deftly crafted written words, I fell in love with music. I was practically weaned on classic rock. Zeppelin, Sabbath, the Beatles, Dylan, Hendrix….I can go on and on. And then I became the proud owner of a CD player and I found out about liner notes. Man, I poured through all my CD’s, reading all the liner notes to find out who the band thanked, who they acknowledged, who helped record the album, who guest drummed on track 4. I would then go and buy CD’s of these unknown bands, based solely on the fact that, say Nirvana thanked them in the liner notes of Nevermind. (Of course, this was before the almighty internet where you can download a whole album, listen to snippets, and delete it if you don’t like it in the span of five minutes.)
The reason for this stroll down nostalgia lane is that I’ve come to do a similar thing with books. I’ll see previously unknown authors offering words of praise to books that I enjoy too. Because we are obviously brethren in superior taste in literature, I will seek out the books by these unfamiliar authors and see what they have to offer. Sometimes they are good, sometimes we merely share affection for the same novel. But sometimes, there are blurbs on these book jackets that bug the heebie jeebies out of me and have me running for the hills. The following overused, hammered-into-the-ground, make-your-ears-bleed-if-you-hear-it clichés should as of now be stricken from book blurbing. (I hereby decree and will see to is that it is good.):
-A unique voice…
You are authors! Wordsmiths. Crafters of the word. You can do better! Fortunately, a cliché on the back cover doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad book. Take a look below, these great books suffered from lazy, lackluster, uninspired blurbs on the back.
Try the Tour-de-Force’s: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
The Sibling Society by Robert Bly
Blindsight by Peter Watts
And don’t forget about the Wildly Inventive books:
Flying by Eric Kraft
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson
And of course, the ‘a unique voice’’s:
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
Collected Poetry and Prose by Wallace Stevens
My Life in France by Julia Child
Let this be a lesson future writers and reviewers, keep your thesaurus handy!