BOOKS AUGUST 6, 2013
Except for maybe Gary Shteyngart, most writers don’t waste their best material on blurbs for other books. Still, this morning I glanced at the back cover of Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. to discover what looked like the most phoned-in blurb I’d ever read. “Wow. What a psychologically astute, and very, very witty novel,” began the endorsement from Rivka Galchen, the author of Atmospheric Disturbances and a New Yorker contributor. It improved from there—but I never quite recovered from that “Wow.”
It turns out Galchen had used it in a blurb before: “The Flamethrowers is its own category of Wow,” she wrote on Rachel Kushner’s book jacket. Maybe she wasn’t phoning it in. Maybe she could still muster a childlike joy for great new literature, in which case: Good for her! Whatever it is, it’s on ample display in Galchen’s blurbs. Here are my favorites, boiled down to their purest enthusiasms:
“[T]his book made me very sad, and also very happy,” on Scott Hutchins’ A Working Theory of Love.
“Hooray for such a talent!” on Fiona Maazel’s Woke Up Lonely.
“I love this book so much,” on Benjamin Anastas’ Too Good to Be True.
“[T]he song you want to hear again and again!” on Karen Shepard’s The Celestials.
“[B]asically the best thing I've read in a very, very long time,” on Jay Caspian Kang’s The Dead Do Not Improve.
“Somehow nearly edible” on Shane Jones’ Light Boxes.
Ben Crair is a story editor at The New Republic. Follow him at @BenCrair.