misblurbing
Posted: 04 May 2007 08:25 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Literary Misblurbing

A neologism from Henry Alford at New York Times Book Review.  It has to do with the Leftpondian? practice of reviewing movies (and now books) in which the “blurb” is selected out of a longer review which may or may not have anything to do with the tone of the review.  Alford writes,

“It happened to me about 10 years ago. I had called David Sedaris’s memoir “Naked” a “tour-de-farce” in a review in Newsday. Shortly thereafter, the publisher ran an ad in which my 600-word review had been boiled down to one phrase: “tour de force.”

But there are so many examples. 

Bernard Cooper was surprised to see that his words of praise had been topped off with the hosanna “Bravo!” “I certainly thought her book was deserving of a hearty exclamation,” Cooper said. “It’s just that my saying ‘Bravo!’ is about as likely as my saying ‘Touché!’ It made me sound like someone who wears an ascot.”

A google on this phrase only shows things related to Alford’s article.  But it strikes me that this one’s got “legs.”

This dutch guy likes it.

[ Edited: 04 May 2007 08:38 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 04 May 2007 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m sure the practice, if not the word, is pretty ancient (in fact, I expect the practice probably predates the word “blurb” too).  I haven’t trusted the sort of quotes you find on book covers for many years.  A measure of fun can be had by trying to invent longer derogatory sentences from which the apparent words of praise could have been clipped.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I didn’t think to ask about “blurb”.  Interesting provenance.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The Big List entry for blurb.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Ouch!!!

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Posted: 05 May 2007 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Oecolampadius - 05 May 2007 06:09 AM

I didn’t think to ask about “blurb”.  Interesting provenance.

There is not a single person with the last name of Blurb in the in the 1900, 1910, 1920, or 1930 US Census, nor indeed any other document which can be accessed via a paid subscription to Ancestry.com.  I have sent the editor of the above site an email to that effect.  If there was a Belinda Blurb, it seems unlikely that it was her birth name.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It wasn’t.  I take it that it was a name made up by the comic/cartoonist.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The OP indicates that ‘misblurb’ originated with movie reviews and now applies to book reviews at well. This startles me--I imagine that the use would begin with books and only then head in the other direction.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Oecolampadius - 05 May 2007 10:08 AM

It wasn’t.  I take it that it was a name made up by the comic/cartoonist.

Ah.... After reading the whole story carefully several times, I finally clued in to that “intended” meaning and how I had managed to gloss over it.  In that case, was blurb a word that he had already made up or should some credit be given to whomever decided to apply the character’s name to the character’s action?

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Posted: 11 May 2007 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I remember the rock journalist Charles Shaar Murray writing about this in the early ‘70s. He’d written a disparaging review of Patti Smith’s second album Radio Ethiopia ending with the cynical aside “It’ll probably go gold” and they used this in the advertising.

Private Eye monitors misblurbing especially regarding West End productions.

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