Tag Archives: Blurbese

Blurbese: “deeply felt”

In general, I dislike curmudgeonly fiats contra adverb—in fact, I’ve complained about them here before. However, there are a couple of cases where I think specific adverbs ought to be banned outright. One of those is the book review phrase … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “best”

Santa’s not the only one who makes lists in December: come the end of the year, anyone who’s ever expressed a passing literary opinion has their own rundown of the year’s best books. But book reviewers rarely use these lists … Continue reading

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Blurbese: Direct Quotations

If you happened to read more than one review of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy last month, you’ll never look at a condom the same way again. That’s because of a single line from the book, which the New York … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “The First _____”

When Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was published, in 2010, the British Daily Telegraph called it “the first great American novel of the post-Obama era.” If that sounds oddly specific (not to mention premature), they at least had good reason for it: … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “quiet”

I’m not usually one to pick on my own, but for illustrative purposes only there’s a line to which I’d like to draw your attention from Anne Gray Fischer’s most recent “Women In Trouble” column: The stakes are perhaps too … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “a _____ debut”

Book reviewers generally frown on unnecessary adjectives. Precisely how they frown depends on the situation, but you can bet if an author’s use of adjectives comes up in a review it’s not as a compliment. If a book is filled … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “funny”

Book reviewers’ relationship with the word “funny” is, well—a little funny. I’m somewhat sympathetic about this one, too, at least when it comes to novels that are deliberately comic, because it’s tough to review authors whose reputation is based entirely … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “unflinching”

I think a lot of book reviewers were smacked as children. Some of them must have at least been bullied. How else to explain their admiration for the ability not to flinch? Just look at the first page of results … Continue reading

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Blurbese: “haunting”

In his new regular column, our blog book reviews editor Andrew Ladd looks at “blurbese,” the contemporary language of book reviews, and names its most egregious offenders. What is it about book critics and the heebie-jeebies? Show most reviewers a … Continue reading

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