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One blurb, two blurb, three blurb, thirty blurbs
Timmons collected thirty blurbs for the book, including blurbs from Craig Dworkin, Rodrigo Toscano, and me. I did not read the book, look at a manuscript or pdf, or have any textual interaction beyond Timmons explaining the project in an email solicitation. It was the concept of Credit that I blurbed, just as it was the idea of Vanessa Place that was wanted for the blurb. My surplus value attested to the surplus value promised by the project. Similarly, most of the blurbs, mine included, suffered from their own lexical excess in the form of puns, digressions, over-use of exclamation points, plagiarisms, and other linguistic wallowings. This was in part due to playing with the idea of the project, and in part inspired by the excess latent in the topic. The credit given Credit was given in the sense of an inscription, like a film credit, like signing-off while signing-on. We did not credit Credit, but credited its credit.
A book as a thing not seen, or even intended necessarily to be owned or read but nonetheless blurbed. Or all-blurbed up. Or excessively, self-consciously blurbed, which kind of knocks the wind out of the act of blurbing. Or, as Place says, “allegorizes the project of the book.” It also recognizes the book as commodity because as Place says “just as a voucher is an act of credit, so is vouching.” I vouch for thee excessively.
I’m not at all sure that is helpful, Craig, but it gave me a laugh. And it rings true, the way the best things are, which is disturbingly true. (For another review of Credit see Gregory Betts). Of course, thirty blurbs and several reviews later I’m still not about to buy the book. But I would buy Vanessa’s book again. Maybe blurbs are for creating interest in the blurbers?
My last two books are blurbless. I am not a fan of the blurb in general, other than for first books. I don’t care much for writing them either though occasionally do. I agree with Erin Moure’s stance on this, which is that it is important to welcome a new author into the book world. So, for me, a blurb is for first books and its use is to place the book in context. Most recently I blurbed Mina Pam Dick’s Delinquent. This is a poet I had never heard of, but the book spoke to me and I attempted to say why.
The downside to the entire process is that it becomes a form of weeding out as much as gathering in. Don’t care for the blurber? Don’t buy the book. Love the blurber? Buy the book. I don’t think this is true for most people. Though, as Daisy Fried mentioned in the comment stream, there are names that make one take a chance on an unknown quantity. Not necessarily a bad thing.
Some have a flair for it: the blurbing, and the assessing of unknown quantities. Some, such as Erin Moure, have fun with it where their own books are concerned: