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The language of blurbs, decoded.

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May 20, 2021, 3:28pm

Unflinching: This book is written in the present tense, which I told the author multiple times was a choice I disagreed with in our writing workshop. Do you belong to a writing workshop? Oh, you really must. They’re fantastic.

Bracing: You ever just really miss the sea? I like reading books by the sea. Not this one, of course. Please don’t tell the author though. His family has a beach house and I really want to score an invite this summer.

Bravura: My book comes out next September, thank you for asking.

Expansive: Wheeeeeeeeeeeew, this one has a lot of characters. You know how sometimes they list the characters in the beginning of a book? That’s when you know you’re in trouble. If the author asks you, tell them the father haunted by the memory of his former lover was my favorite. There’s always a father haunted by the memory of his former lover.

Ambitious: This one had a lot of characters, too, but it’s also set in the past. I know this because of the Daguerreotype on the cover, and also because last year when the author picked me up at the airport she told me a lot about Civil War-era breads. I’m not that into historical fiction, but do you know how much a Lyft home from the airport costs? Sheesh!

Tour de Force: The author cheats at Clue. Like, I had the author over for game night once and I caught him looking in the little envelope when he thought no one was looking. What kind of a man cheats at clue? This novel is 900 pages.

Heartbreaking: The author never, ever laughs at my jokes.

Hilarious: The author laughs at my jokes but then is like, Wait, what about— and tries too hard to one-up me but they’re definitely not as funny as I am and everyone thinks it’s pretttttty annoying.

Hilarious and heartbreaking: The author once cut me to the core with a single tossed-off observation that I’ve been thinking about, every day, ever since, and I’m terrified of her.

One of the most exciting young writers of his generation: The author was my student.

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