And speaking of blurbs

I love this article by Otto Penzler (right up until he dismisses John Cage) about "the worst mystery writer ever".


Anonymous said...

Can't read it. I'm not a subscriber and though I'd like to read it, I don't want to sign up for the paper just for one article.

Sal said...

Loved this. I was relieved to see the gentleman in question was dead.

I am certainly going to read blurbs for mysteries more carefully so I can find the mysterious blurber with the heart of gold.

Gelf Magazine runs a weekly column dissecting egregious blurbing, comparing blurbs to the actual reviews the blurbs were lifted from.


Sal said...

Anonymous said... Can't read it.

I couldn't either but trotted over to Google and tried /Penzler "worst writer in the world"/ and clicked one of the links that appeared and somehow circumvented the signup process.


Mark said...

It's a riot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, Sal. It worked. The article was great.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Miss Snark:

You and everyone else amused by Penzler’s takedown of Harry Stephen Keeler might enjoy Bill Pronzini’s books Gun In Cheek and Son of Gun In Cheek. I read the latter volume years ago when it was remaindered and don’t have it at hand to refer to, but here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say (via the Los Angeles Public Library’s online card catalog):

“The prolific Pronzini not only writes a lot of mysteries (The Nameless Detective series), he obviously reads a lot of them toobut not all of what he reads is good. His 1982 Gun in Cheek was a wickedly humorous collection of unbelievable plots, poor characterization, unlikely language and just plain dumbness in his favorite genre; here he presents another collection, subtitled ``an affectionate guide to more of the `worst' in mystery fiction.'' Some writers (Harry Stephen Keeler, Michael Avallone) are roasted at length, and some are sideswiped, including even fine writers experiencing temporary lapses (Ed McBain, Joseph Wambaugh). Not perhaps for the general reader, this volume should appeal to addicts who, like Pronzini, will apparently read anything labeled ``mystery.'' Sex, pulp mags, B-movies and ``The Alternative Hall of Fame'' are featured in wittily titled chapters with a postmortem, bibliography and index.”

Anonymous said...

You have, of course, seen the blurbs for Atlanta Nights?

Quoting from the website,

"Maybe once in a lifetime, there comes a book with such extraordinary characters, thrilling plot twists, and uncanny insight, that it comes to embody its time. ATLANTA NIGHTS is a book." — Adam-Troy Castro

"I can never read too much work of this quality. I couldn't wait to finish it." — Brian Plante

"I stayed upright reading it." — Jane Yolen

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I was asked for blurbs by my publisher.

The first MS I sent back in smoking ashes with the reasonable query "You paid good money for that piece of &%#*?"

(Sadly they did, plus $$ for 2 more in the series. The only good thing in the book was that the giant monster destroyed half the state of New Jersey.)

My brave editor sent a 2nd MS some time later. I read it, gave it a glowing thumbs up. It was good; I told the truth.

I am a bit peeved these days. That writer now gets 6 figure advances from our publisher and I'm not.

Maybe I should give MYSELF a blurb.

That, or chug a bottle of Thunderbird, lie back, and think of McGyver.

Anonymous said...

"Atlanta Nights" is a masterpiece!

I mean, within its own domain (deliberately bad books, that is).

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

The late and very much missed William F. Deeck created a cult at Malice Domestic when he wrote about the extremely awful writings of James Corbett in Malice's newsletter _The Usual Suspects_. Some of Corbett's deathless technique includes "He sat up like a full-blown geranium"; the villain of one novel is an unknown triplet; and, for those sci-fi fans out there, the ultimate: In Corbett's _Devil-Man from Mars_, the Devil-Man reaches Earth sooner than expected because "he had a fine tailwind."

A collection of Bill's Corbett columns is _The Complete Deeck on Corbett_, published by iUniverse (http://www.iUniverse.com)