On Blurbs and Laurie Blauner’s Instructions for Living

Instructions for Living by Laurie BlaunerI recently read Blauner’s brand new and excellent novella Instructions for Living and wrote this blurb. I wonder if there is anyone who really excels at blurb writing? When I had my first book accepted for publication, I had to go hat in hand to authors I admired hoping they would say something. Chris Offutt who I had corresponded with on Salon’s Forums and whose work I really admire agreed to write something if he liked what he read. So I sent him the first part of the book. (He said he didn’t want to see the whole thing.) He sent me back a great blurb but also lamented the whole process. Who was he, he wanted to know. A good blurb would be from someone like Flannery O’Connor or John Cheever, and they were dead. I kind of feel in a similar vein about my own endorsement of a book. But as a writer I realize blurbs are about as important as jacket art — they come to represent the book and if they are accurate they help form an idea about where the book fits into the larger flow of books and words about books. I suppose in some way blurbs are a kind of protection for a book, like a jacket. The author is getting someone to create a short representation for the book and to vouch for the book. And in this case, I totally vouch for Blauner’s book. It is a chilling and increasingly relevant story about living in a bombed-out and repressive time.

Here is my blurb:

In sparse language, Laurie Blauner teases out the beauty of resisting the inevitable: the end of love, the end of life, the end of the world. At the core of her book, Instructions for Living, there is nothingness. The novella is a testament to Blauner’s remarkable skill; she has created a narrative that dissolves rather than advances. This is a chilling story appropriate for a world of pirate corporations, international gangs, and secret police forces.

You can buy the book here.


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