June 28, 2010

Utterly putdownable


David Grossman

David Grossman

There are blurbs and there are blurbs. But, as a blog post at Conversational Reading puts it after getting an early reader’s copy of David Grossman‘s forthcoming To the End of the Land, “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

Beyond the obvious problem (really? Nicole Krauss is an appropriate blurbist for David Grossman, winner, as reported earlier this month, of the prestigious Peace Prize from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association?) the sophomoric gushing itself makes the point that sometimes, a blurb can kill you.

Or, as Conversational Reading puts it, “I think I can live without having Grossman’s book touch me at the place of my own essence.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives