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Create Your Own Book Review

December 9, 2009

Have you ever noticed that every back-jacket book review is exactly the same? Is that what the reviews on the back jacket of the book are called, “back-jacket book reviews”? Am I totally effing up the terminology? Any SFU people reading this? I have to hope not. Anyway, every back-jacket book review is exactly the same. They’re as formulaic as Homeric Greek, but way less interesting. I have a friend who collects particularly meaningless phrases from back jackets and writes them all down in a little notebook that she always seems to have on hand when we’re at a bar. Around drink #3 she whips out the notebook and starts reciting a horrible hilarious review – for example, “R’s novel is a thrill-a-minute tour-de-force, packed with memorably poignant and darkly funny musings on the nature of life and love.” Translation: “This is more or less exactly the same as just about every other trade paperback. It’s decent, you won’t hate it, you won’t go back to the bookstore and demand your 10 hours back, but two months from now you won’t remember what it was about, and if a friend of yours finds it on your shelf and asks what you thought of it, you’ll be like, ‘It was okay, it kind of reminded me of [insert some brilliant famous author’s name here] in certain places but it wasn’t as good’.”

Instructions: replace each number with a word from its respective list of options to create a meaningless yet realistic book review. Then look me in the eye and tell me I won’t be an acquiring editor by the year 2018. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. No, enjoy the game…


This novel is a(n) (1) book, (2) with (3)ly (4) and (3)ly (4) (5) on/of/about the (6) of (7) and (7).

(1) epic   fun   beautiful   outstanding   dramatic   important   memorable   wise   perceptive   original   witty

(2) complete   teeming   overflowing   rich   brimming   resplendent   shining

(3) haunting   mesmerizing   clever   wonderful   theatrical   colourful   skillful   unflinching  surreal   meticulous   humourous

(4) rendered   dreamlike   rendered   ironic   lyrical   plot-driven   dynamic   gritty   raw   elegant   soulful   lyrical   drawn   tough

(5) musings   illustrations   thoughts   philosophy   depictions   portrayals

(6) meaning   importance   significance   power   depth   nature   complexity   magic

(7) heartache   death   grief   love   trust   wilderness   loss   womanhood   life   family   growing up   solitude

On second thought, I’m not that interested in being an acquiring editor, with the publishing industry the way it is these days and with me the way I am all the time. I’d way rather be freelance; that way I’d have more options and I wouldn’t have to work for anyone and I could make sure I left myself plenty of time to work on my freaky novel. That thing is going to rock the house if I do it properly. Even more relevantly, the word “freelance” implies that one routinely carries a javelin, which is a dream of mine, probably needless to say…

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