This morning, news came that much-loved light humorist Sloane Crosley is coming out with a follow-up to her bestselling book, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. Crosley is often described as a blend of David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, and Candace Bushnell (which, judging by her Website, is a formula her publicists are trying to get across). Seeing this again today reminded us of something that always stuns us: There are only ten writers that you can be compared to in blurbs or publicity materials. Out of the thousands of great writers in American history, this is all we can come up with? In Sloane’s case, we’re not even sure it’s a compliment! Below, we’ve compiled the top ten (sometimes entries are paired if they are essentially the same writer) most overused blurb comparisons for new, zeitgeist-y writers:
10. F. Scott Fitzgerald or Edith Wharton: If you write about society, you write about rich drunks, or you write about crumbling marriages and decadence, you’re one of these two. If you’re a boy, you’re Scott; if you’re a girl, you’re Edith. If you’re a girl pretending to be a boy, maybe you get to be George Eliot.
9. Jay McInerney or Bret Easton Ellis: If you’re writing about disaffected (frequently drug-using) outsiders who don’t express emotion but who are also inevitably destroyed by the world with which they are obsessed, you’re one of these. Usually Jay, but if there’s gay sex, then Bret.
8. Candace Bushnell: If you are a female writer with a concept so good and sexy that you don’t have to worry about execution, you’re Candace.
7. David Sedaris: If you are a male writer with witticisms so sharp you don’t have to worry about the truth, you’re David. (Sometimes girls in this vein are compared to Norah Ephron.)
6. Malcolm Gladwell: If you find a fascinating new way to state the obvious, you’re a Malcolm.
5. Doris Kearns Goodwin or Robert Caro: If you wrote exhaustively and intelligently about history and famous Americans were there when the history happened, you’re a Doris or a Robert.
4. Hunter S. Thompson: If you are a crazy writer who did something adventurous, and your publicist couldn’t even get through the book but sensed it would be transgressive, you are a Hunter. If your publicist could get through it, you are more like a Jack Kerouac.
3. Chuck Klosterman: If you write about pop culture, and the peoples of pop culture, and you’re not visibly sexy in your jacket photo, you’re a Chuck.
2. Dave Eggers: If you wrote something about yourself that started out as a somewhat pedestrian tale of self-discovery, but then become something so much more, you are a Dave. Nobody remembers that last book.
1. Dorothy Parker: The short-story writer and humorist would be spinning in her grave if she knew how many times her name has been used in vain. Particularly to describe writers of novels, a craft she was never really able to master. If you are a gay man, sometimes you’ll be called a Noel Coward instead.