Charlene was talking about beach reads yesterday over at RTB, and that got me hunting around for some offbeat opinions on what to take with the sunscreen. Which lead to yet another example of why literary books desperately need new PR.
Yes, I've bitched about it before, but the blurbs are actually getting worse. Don't believe me? Here's a book described by the Village Voice* as a beach read:
"Sued because the ineradicable graffiti from his company's "Eter-No-Mark" pens has metastasized throughout the city, young Manhattan exec Chad Roe  spirals into a lost weekend of booze, drugs, and self-loathing ; passed out, he is maliciously tattooed with his own bread and butter. A yuppie Queequeg, his appearance repels and fascinates onlookers but is shortly trumped by the horrors of 9-11 , from which he staggers to a dilapidated American history theme park filled with squatters partying amid the three-story stucco heads of dead presidents. Sans dialogue , entwining poetic captions—"the slippery meat-dream of life" —with beautifully composed ink drawings , this hallucinatory tale finds a Burning Man catharsis at the heart of a jittery nation ."
First and lasting impressions, by the numbers:
1. Naming the protagonist after the egg-laden ovary of a fish does not make one the next John Irving. Please make note of this.
2. As taking an Advil, talking to friends and sipping Pepsi while working things out during a couple of productive weekdays would mean he's not really suffering.
3. Now there's irony that you never saw coming, eh?
4. Cap'n, we've got Melville sighted off the port bow!
4a. Literary reviewers, please. Read Nat Philbrick. Go on the Atkins Diet. Get in touch with your inner Rushdie. Make an appointment for a high colonic. Have sex. Have sex with someone else. Find a decent therapist and work out your issues leftover from high school. Whatever you have to do, do it and get over your obsession with this stupid fricking whale story.
5. Ann Coulter's not the only one exploiting it? Quelle surprise.
6. Squatters being a much hipper term than homeless, I suppose. Or the British have retaken the colonies and no one told me.
7. What the f-- there's NO dialogue in this novel? AT ALL?
8. I can't parody the slippery meat thing. I'm still in shock over the no-dialogue. What, is it like all exposition and setting and weather reports?
9. Aha! Close-captioned for the reading impaired.
10. You obviously never went to a Burning Man, my man.
Okay, so despite the fact that this painfully crafted blurb left me feeling like I'd rather have a colonoscopy minus the sublimaze than read this at the beach, I decided to order the book anyway. I figured I'd write up a snappy blurb of my own to post in comparison. Also, I just had to see a novel with no dialogue.
Guess what? It's not a novel. It's a comic book.
Did you see the words comic book show up anywhere in that blurb? Me, either (and yes, I apologize in advance to everyone who now calls them graphic novels because comic book isn't considered cool anymore.) But it's a comic book, all right. With no dialogue. Which makes it . . . a picture book.
And this is a literary beach "read."
I give up.
*Link brazenly swiped from John Rickards.