The Blurb King

A couple of summers ago, I checked out the novel Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, seduced by the cover and a glowing endorsement from Stephen King. “To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild. I haven’t read such a relentlessly creepy family saga since John Farris’s All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By, and that was thirty years ago,” began Mr. King in a rather lengthy endorsement. The next week I picked up The Ruins by Scott Smith, also with a King blurb (“the best horror novel of the new century”).

“How many ‘favorite books of the year’ can he have?” asked my friend and co-worker Hayden, who had just encountered three new teen novels, all with glowing endorsements from King.

The answer, apparently, is: a bunch. So Hayden and I gathered a few of his favorites for a “Stephen King Blurb Display” (now showing on Level 3 at the Central Library). Here are a few selections (as well as a snapshot of part of our display) for your Blurb King reading pleasure:

A display of King's blurbs

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly: “What’s amazing about Michael Connelly is how much he continues to learn about the art of narrative from book to book. Each one is better than the last. And this one is – pardon me – a real Cadillac.”
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff: “I was so sorry to see this rich and wonderful novel come to an end.” 
Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams: “My all-time favorite. Astonishing.”
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson: “Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade.”
Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan: “A deeply moving novel about how we work, how we live, and how we get to the next day with our spirits intact. If there was ever a book that embodies what’s best in us, it’s Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster.”
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes:  “I think this brave story of a lost man’s reconnection with the world could become a generational touchstone, like Catch-22, The Monkey Wrench Gang or The Catcher in the Rye.”

I have the feeling that I’d really like Stephen King if I ever met him (and I certainly love his stories, as well as his book On Writing). His willingness and enthusiasm to help new authors is inspiring, not to mention generous. He certainly isn’t paid to read or endorse books, yet he has given the Stephen King Stamp of Approval to hundreds. “I’ve done it only for books I honestly loved, and for a very simple reason. Early on, nobody blurbed any of mine,” he wrote in a column titled “The Art of the Blurb” in Entertainment Weekly.  

Maybe someday my friend Hayden and I will be blurbed by King. In the meantime, we decided to take a crack at blurbing King’s blurb writing talents:

“One of the most remarkable blurb stylists to emerge from the blurb tradition this century.” – Hayden Bass, Teen Services Librarian and Blurb Analyst

 “Not just the best blurb I read this year, but the best blurb of the decade.”
– Linda Johns, Fiction Librarian and Aspiring  Blurbist

10 thoughts on “The Blurb King”

  1. Great (and hilarious) idea for the display. Thanks for sharing. (I enjoyed your post even though I was disappointed when I read Sharp Objects.)

  2. A great post about a great display. The earnestness and math-bending superlatives of Steven King’s blurbs are very heartening. For someone who obviously has read many books (and written more books than I have ever read in a single year), it is great to see that enthusiasm and the dedication to do what he can to help future “Steven Kings”.

  3. I missed this post when it originally aired, but found it when playing around with the blog archive. Beautifully done! How funny!

    I love that Stephen King would blurg books he genuinely enjoyed because nobody blurbed his at first. I try to make a point of lodging compliments about especially good customer service with managers of businesses for the same reason — people often think to criticize and break down the work of others, but they rarely remember to praise support it. Good going, Stephen King.

    And nice post, guys!

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