Sometimes I think a perfect career for me would be to write the blurbs on the back of books. You know? The ones that actually make you buy the latest Sophie Kinsella novel? (Not guilty. For once.)
I know it’s a marketing gig, probably better suited to people who use lots of exclamation marks, who used to throw glittery star stickers onto school dance posters. But the thing is, whenever I think about storylines for potential novels, I always think of them in back-of-book blurb format.
Sorry, make that crappy back-of-book blurb format. Or is that clichéd back-of-book format? Regardless, it’s a little painful. Kind of like narrating your life with that deep movie theatre trailer voice. Probably very shallow.
The thing is, the back-of-book blurb is typically kind of crappy. Or maybe just exhausting. So breathless, so excited. Of course, I fall for it every time, only to find out the book was nothing like I expected.
“Why on earth would Katherine Earle come back to Silver Creek -- the small Montana town she couldn’t wait to escape? No one has an answer to that million-dollar question, not even Kat herself. At eighteen, she ran away to the big city and got married, but after spending three years alone and on the road, she’s finally come home. Well, not home, exactly, because she’s renting a motel room and trying to avoid all chance encounters with people who might recognize her. But then she learns that her great-aunt Eva -- the domineering woman who raised her -- is dying. Pulled back into ancient family intrigues, Kat discovers that the past is something you can’t escape. And when an old love unexpectedly appears, she has to choose between the woman she has become and the girl she left behind….”
[Not to ruin it for you, but this book turns out exactly as you would expect it to. This summary’s sort of your typical breathless marketing ploy. Also, I feel the word “ancient” shouldn’t just be thrown around…. Anyway, this is the kind of blurb that reminds me of those romantic comedies you rent only to find out all the funny scenes you saw in the trailer were the only funny scenes the trailer-makers could cobble together from the whole film.]
“For more than two hundred years, the Owen women had been blamed for everything that went wrong in their Massachusetts town. And Gillian and Sally endured that fate as well: As children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One would do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they shared, even into adulthood, brought them back -- almost as if by magic….”
[Okay, I’m noticing an ellipses trend here not wholly different from my own overuse of such punctuation. Is the ellipsis the adult equivalent of the exclamation mark? By the way, if I haven’t mentioned it before, this book is really good and completely unlike the movie. ]
“In 1972, windswept DeClare, Oklahoma, was consumed by a terrifying crime: the murder of a young mother, Gaylene Harjo, and the disappearance of her baby, Nicky Jack. When the child’s pyjama bottoms were discovered on the banks of Willow Creek, everyone feared that he, too, had been killed, although his body was never found. Now, nearly thirty years later, Nicky Jack mysteriously returns to DeClare, shocking the town with his sudden reappearance and stirring up long-buried memories. But what he discovers about the night he vanished is far more than he, or anyone, bargains for. Piece by piece, what emerges is a story of dashed hopes, desperate love, and an act with repercussions that still cry out for justice…. And redemption.”
[Okay, so I have a thing for the going-home storyline. The start of this blurb is somewhat reminiscent of a feature-style newspaper article, no? But check out the words designed to make you buy the book -- Terrifying! Mysteriously! Shocking! Redemption! I’m not ripping on Billie Letts, honestly. This was actually a really good read, plus she’s the pen behind Where the Heart Is and The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, total classics, as far as I'm concerned.]