Advance praise finds its way to book jackets in many ways—some meticulously planned, some random—but mostly, as an executive at HarperCollins admits, “it’s logrolling, pure and simple.” That’s no shock (especially if you recall Spy magazine’s “Logrolling in Our Time”). But a graphical look at the blurbing network reveals surprising literary linkages. Stephen King is only a few hops from Kazuo Ishiguro; likewise Al Franken to Dan Brown. The Brooklyn writer’s-writer Paula Fox, who spent decades in semi-obscurity until her recent rediscovery, turns out to be the absolute top of the pyramid. Not that she’s particularly fond of the form. “The language of blurbing has become so ordinary and bloated,” she says. “All you have to see is vivid or vital, and you want to throw up. I end up with various clichés myself—you’re only given two or three sentences. It’s very hard to be original about original work.”
CHARTING THE JACKET-BLURB UNIVERSE
How do Stephen King and Tobias Wolff relate to Paula Fox?
View the chart (PDF).