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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blurb This!

"Punctuated by subversive humor, verbal theatrics, and moments of strange luminous beauty, Goodfellow's clear unsentimental poems are meditations and mediations on contemporary existence and the unreliability of language, emotions, and memory's ability to gather it all in."

That's the first sentence of a blurb about my manuscript Mendeleev's Mandala. Sound good so far? Well, how about later on, when it claims,

"Lust, love, contempt, disgust, parental guidance, and poetic revenge, crafted with unbridled imagination and unmistakable skill, Goodfellow's poetry is not for the masses, but it is for everyone."

How about this?:

"It's as if Dylan Thomas and Jack Kerouac danced together in the cemetery of Spoon River, in the light of a projected image of Joe Brainard flickering on fleeting clouds, while teaching the intricate steps to the ghost of Maximus."

Still like the blurb? Happily you don't have to, as it isn't real. It's from Dan Waber's Blurbinator, a project in which Waber compiled a mass of actual blurbs, found the patterns in them ("a certain structure, a four-part formula, very often exactly four sentences but easily broken down into four beats with variations"), and made a random blurb generator to expose and mock the blurbing system (expose and mock are my words, not his).

His words are: "I believe this appropriation of texts written by others fall squarely under the Fair Use provisions for parody. My intent here is to show that these texts are, themselves, a joke. If the sentences can be randomly mixed with other sentences of the same type and have arbitrary names and titles substituted I hope it's pretty clear they're not saying anything of value about any specific book."

Try it with your name and title, and see if you agree! I do!

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