“(author’s name here) is awesome!”

I suck at blurbs. If I really love something, I feel woefully inadequate to say anything meaningful and if I don’t love it, well that’s a whole other world of suck. Unfortunately, blurbing is not optional in this business. We all need blurbs, and you can’t turn down other writers and expect to get any yourself. That being said, there have been times when the deadlines and the pressure to actually produce something to put a blurb on has been so intense that I just didn’t have time to read and blurb anything, good, bad or indifferent. But I do try to get to them when I can.

Example: I recently got a copy of DONNYBROOK by Frank Bill. I read it and loved it. That’s not a blurb, just the way I felt about it. Now comes the hard part. I need to come up with something brilliant to say about it. Preferably something better than “Frank Bill is awesome!”

When I first started reading this book, I made a kind of off-the-cuff comment about it on Twitter and Facebook. (Hard to be anything but off-the-cuff on Twitter.) Said it read like Larry Brown on crank. Now that’s theoretically a nice, punchy, blurb-worthy line. Except it’s meaningless to anyone who hasn’t read Brown, and more importantly, it hardly does justice to Bill’s powerful and unique voice.

So what did I like about the book? Well, I really loved the fight scenes. Writing good fight scenes is harder than writing good sex scenes and just as prone to overwrought and unintentionally funny cliché. Reading one of Bill’s fight scenes reminds me of the first time I saw a John Woo shoot out. Sure, I’d seen a million cinematic shoot outs before, but Woo took it to another level. Turned it into bloody ballet. That’s what Bill does with written fight scenes. He takes a scene where two guys are punching each other and turns it into a kind of gritty, visceral poetry. Maybe poetry’s the wrong word, because it sounds a bit pretentious and this book is anything but. But you get the general idea.

So there’s a big, lump of rambling, undigested thoughts on this book. All I gotta do now is figure out how to turn all that blather into a cool punchy blurb. I have a deep, seething envy for writers who good at this. Who give out blurbs like candy and never break a sweat. How the hell do they do it?

Meanwhile, two questions for the virtual hive mind: Readers, do you ever buy books because of blurbs? Writers, how do you feel about blurbs, giving and getting?

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