Sunday, March 27, 2011

Literary blurb translation guide

"luminous prose" = too many goddam words
"a tour-de-force" = threw it across the room
"a triumph" = huge advance
"a commanding new voice in fiction" = girlfriend's brother wrote it
"sublime" = didn't know what the hell was going on
"unflinching artistry" = lots of boobs and stabbing
"grabs you on page 1 and won't let go" = stuck reading it on long flight
"achingly beautiful" = really long sentences
"brilliant" = smarty-pants
"profound" = written by old person
"a story for the ages" = ripoff of Tolstoy
"taut" = limited vocabulary
"finely wrought" = namby-pamby
"best of the year" = only thing I've gotten around to reading
"deeply imagined" = makes no sense
"incredible range and breadth" = all over the place
"ingenious" = confusing
"radiant" = already been blurbed by people more famous than me
"lyrical grace" = either is girl or writes like one
"rich language" = not enough paragraph breaks
"devastating" = dropped it on my toe
"goes straight for the heart" = sappy
"trenchant satire" = poop jokes
"clever" = thinks it's being clever
"fiercely resonant" = author looks hot in publicity photo
"a small gem" = will sell five hundred copies, tops
"first-rate" = grad school pal
"bracing" = fits nicely in box headed for used bookstore
"tightly coiled and edgy" = contains fucking
"humane" = contains murdering
"you'll feel forever changed" = you will never get those hours of your life back
"transcends its genre" = stuck in its genre
"affirms the human spirit" = contains scene of winning big game
"searing...glorious...a fury of dazzling transcendence" = I'm just stringing random words together now

Please...add more.


Blinde Schildpad said...

"J.R. Lennons heartfelt and in-your-face Literary blurb translation guide presents a mind blowing paradigm shift in post-9/11 Western literature that is sure to leave its mark on future generations of writers, cooks and game-designers."

-Blinde Schildpad (whose Twitter-based sci-fi porn poetry chapbook Dangerskull/Gevaarschedel: a bilingual memoir is slated to be published in March 2014)

Anonymous said...

ha haaa!

jon said...

Not since Homer....

Unknown said...

"Just like literature, only smaller."

Elizabeth McCracken said...

liminal = accidentally left it at the bus station

Katharine Beutner said...

Here via @elizmccracken; these are great! Except I think "transcends its genre" sometimes means "obviously a genre work but well-written/by someone I like."

Sung said...

"astonishing" = cover is glossy instead of matte

Hilarious stuff. Check out Joe Queenen's "Astonish Me" essay, in the Times a while back.

Anonymous said...

very good, Sung, ha!

Anonymous said...


Glowing = used it in fireplace

Diana Holquist said...

The romancelandia translator:

"A sweet story" = no sex
"Witty and smart" = no sex
"Beautifully written, a love story of depth" = no sex
"Deft plotting and sparkling characters" = where the hell's the damn sex?!?!
"Entrancing"= I didn't really read it because there was no sex
"It kept me turning the pages..." = ...because I couldn't find the f$($* sex. Who does she think she is, *&*& Tolstoy?
"You MUST read this book!" = sex

Anonymous said...

"Delicate, Moving, and Yes, Funny" : I haven't read it. Fart jokes? Fingers (/legs) crossed.

"Think Beckett, think Pynchon, think Gaddis. Think" : I read somewhere the footnotes are quite entertaining in their own right.

Your list is pretty airtight as is.

Anonymous said...

"bildungsroman" = main character is younger than me

Anonymous said...

My favorite has always been "uproarious" - You might not laugh, but you know you're supposed to at some point.

Unknown said...

haunting = someone dies
pellucid = someone drowns
galloping = someone gets thrown from a horse

Valerie Nieman said...

Thanks for the bright spot on a gray morning! Love it.

Aaron said...

"Deeply felt" = astonishingly narcissistic.

Aaron said...

"Command of craft" = you wouldn't believe how many revisions of this I had to read.

Matt said...

"moving" = something moving almost happens

Hope said...

"sprawling" = way too long and boring as f*ck

+ my fave from this list= "fiercely resonant" = author looks hot in publicity photo

Ralshie said...

this goes for music reviews, but still...

"crushingly melancholic" = probably a Nine Inch Nails song

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krista said...

"Unforgettable"=nightmares for the next five years

Quillers said...

Challenging - The writer cannot spell, punctuate or use correct grammar.

Anonymous said...

"Moving"- promotes good bowel function, i.e. I read it on the pot.

yeahdog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yeahdog said...

picaresque = guaranteed fart jokes

(Ah, the lack of an edit option on blogger comments!)

Teresa said...

Healing (soporific)