The Painfully Wrought Blurb

Very exciting to see Knopf seriously getting behind a work of literary translation, as David Grossman’s forthcoming To the End of the Land (trans. Jessica Cohen) has a huge (for translation) print run and an ambitious PR campaign.

But what the hell is up with this blurb, which is plastered right on the galley’s front cover in a largish font:

Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you open a book and when you close it again nothing can ever be the same. Walls have been pulled down, barriers broken, a dimension of feeling, of existence itself, has opened in you that was not there before. To the End of the Land is a book of this magnitude. David Grossman may be the most gifted writer I’ve ever read; gifted not just because of his imagination, his energy, his originality, but because he has access to the unutterable, because he can look inside a person and discover the unique essence of her humanity. For twenty-six years he has been writing novels about what it means to defend this essence, this unique light, against a world designed to extinguish it. To the End of the Land is his most powerful, shattering, and unflinching story of this defense. To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being. —Nicole Krauss

I think I can live without having Grossman’s book touch me at the place of my own essence. For that, I listen to Michael Jackson.


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“I think I can live without having Grossman’s book touch me at the place of my own essence. For that, I listen to Michael Jackson.”

Me, too! Usually “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” But “Wanna Be Startin Something” always does the trick, too.

quite a bit to live up to…..I can’t think of any book that deserves that sort of over the top praise. The overkill almost seems like compensating for…..????

My galley copy has a condensed version of that blurb: “David Grossman may be the most gifted writer I’ve ever read…. [To the End of the Land is] powerful, shattering, and unflinching. To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence.” -Nicole Krauss

A blurb on the back from Paul Auster compares Ana, the protagonist, to Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. Coincidentally, there’s a reference to Auster novels early in the book.

I would certainly require Grossman’s book to buy me a few drinks first. And an overwrought blurb like that makes me very hesitant to ever read any of Krauss’ fiction.

The blurb on my copy is minus the last (most ridiculous) sentence. Curious to see what it will ultimately be pared down to.

Fact: I own and read that entire galley without noticing the blurb on the cover.

Fact: This is a gorgeous book, and I loved it, but while I do not avoid books, Scott, I do deny them my essence.

Probably should have been condensed down to: “David Grossman, undone.”

[…] fall releases I’m most looking forward to reading. Scott Esposito points out that it comes with a hilariously overwrought blurb from Nicole Krauss. . . . Michael Popek finds a Yankees-Red Sox ticket stub from 1955 in an old paperback. . . . How […]

[…] And she doesn’t stop there. To read the book, she says, “is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being”. Hmm. As the blog Conversational Reading puts it, “I think I can live without having Grossman’s book touch me at the place of my own essen… […]

[…] Waxman: Fact: I own and read that entire galley without noticing the blurb on the cover. Fact: This is a gor… New at The Constant ConversationCesar Aira’s The Literary Conference July 9, 2010The […]

[…] on or interested in jumping on the Nicole Krauss-bashing bandwagon with regards to her recent jacket blurb kerfuffle.  I’m not even sure kerfuffle is the right word.  I do think that Laura Miller‘s […]

[…] context here is an incredibly overwrought blurb from an author, Nicole Krauss, whom I like very much. I’m not actually sure I’d want to […]

[…] I do not avoid books, but I do deny them my essence By Jeff Waxman ⋅ July 8, 2010 ⋅ Post a comment I do not avoid books, but I do deny them my essenceShareToday The Guardian teased a blurb written by Nicole Krauss for David Grossman’s upcoming novel, To the End of the Land–calling it “possibly the most laudatory quote ever attached to a book.” Krauss’s rave? “Grossman may be the most gifted writer I’ve ever read; gifted not just because of his imagination, his energy, his originality, but because he has access to the unutterable, because he can look inside a person and discover the unique essence of her humanity.”  I’ll stand with Ms. Krauss, but only that far–the rest is a bit much, even for me. […]

[…] ⋅ Post a comment Just to balance the unbalancedShareI don’t doubt that you recall Ms. Nicole Krauss’s rave for the new David Grossman novel, To the End of the Land.  Notable remarks included assertions of […]

[…] the most popular (hit-wise) post of 2010: Nicole Krauss’s ridiculously overwrought blurb. Was quite surprised to see this pop up on Laura Miller’s Salon blog, plus even Ezra […]

[…] meaningless (“tour-de-force”), loaded (“as good as it gets”), or hilariously overwrought. Such a narrow range of toadying adjectives simply end up patronising and/or […]

[…] to the critic and editor Scott Esposito for posting this overheated blurb on his Conversational Reading blog, and to former Publishers Weekly deals columnist Matt Thornton (www.twitter.com/thorntonmatt) for […]

[…] them of their DIs, which may be the highest compliment I’ve ever received.)  I don’t think Nicole Krauss had this in mind, but to see this film is “to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being,” […]

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