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8/15/2012

"A Story For The Smart and Beautiful"

In the olden days a book would have been recommended to you by your friends with words such as "hey, this is a good book, you'll like it.." or "it's from the author so-and-so, known for this and that.."

Now, there are all these referential blurbs on book backs, which, especially in the fantasy genre, largely consist of stupid, can't-stop-hitting-myself endorsements. Apparently it's not enough to have it thrown in my face that I am a fan and member of a very earthy genre, one that is frowned upon by pipe smokers, and sneered at by the friends of high literature. I should also be grateful that in recent years, fantasy has risen to the ranks of "somewhat accepted, if you're into this kinda thing."

I may make a mountain out of a molehill here, but damned, I feel insulted. This time, I'm not letting it go, and all because of the little tiny thing that is printed on the back of A Feast For Crows, book four of the epic fantasy series by George R. R. Martin, a blurb contributed by the Detroit Free Press.

And I quote...

"A fantasy series for hip, smart people, even those who don't read fantasy."


I feel as though I have been slapped in the face. Twice. For one, this little quote takes an unloading dump on the genre. It implies that hip, smart people normally don't read stupid shit like fantasy. Pardon my French. Oh yes, the hip and & smart are renowned for reading smart books by authors whose names they memorized to pronounce them correctly. In case someone asks. Fine, let them feel superior: cunt and Kant - it sounds the same to me..


By the way, the smartsters and/or hipsters also take last year's winner copy of the Pulitzer with them to their beach summer vacation - where they hope to be seen reading it...pretend to read it..don't read it.






Ok, first slap about that blurb! The second one, "(...) even those who don't read fantasy." 
I know what they meant: it's so good you'll actually want to read it despite the genre.

Yet I feel like I'm on a backhanded sales pitch against the genre, not for a book.

"Fantasy - why it is not as crappy as you thought, smart people!"

Excuse me, but what is so third-rate about that particular genre? Do we call it childish, because it doesn't portray the real world? Is Scifi childish? You know, it has also thingies in it that don't exist in the "real" world.

Let's say, a fairy, a magician and a winged horse make you want to vomit (or in Scifi's case: a spaceship, an alien and a cyborg), and it's just not your cup of tea to have these things in a story. You'd be inclined to move on to something else. But would you go as far as to deem it beneath you because it has some disconcerting elements? Let me tell you something, outraged snot-nosed pretense-readers: you, the ones who are most disconcerted are the ones who would get the most out of reading those stories. Because you seem so easily distracted by all those elements. A common trick of the abstracting genre is to create a distance (future or middle age settings, doesn't matter) that allows you to actually see where there are things similar rather than different. I'm not saying that every fantasy writer puts the same amount of effort into it, but the great ones do. The point is that in a book, you don't need the real world copied one-to-on to decide if a story is meaningful or relevant to you. It's the story that does that.

So, since I gave vent to my anger, let's move on to the second blurb on the book.

"A once-in-a-generation work of fiction that manages to entertain readers while elevating an entire genre to fine literature." 


Thank you, I feel even worse now, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.



Care to share some bad blurbs from the book you read right now?