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,Is this blurb by Nichole Krauss for novelist David Grossman's new book the most obsequious to ever grace a book cover, asks The Gawker, while The Guardian's book blog invited readers to out-praise Krauss, and the results are most amusing. (Conversational Reading was the first to highlight this case.)
Laura Miller on the Salon website tells us why blurbs really are actually crap and how the process of blurbing works :
Once a reasonably finished draft of a manuscript has been completed, the author, at his publisher's insistence, begins the grueling and humiliating process of begging blurbs from better-known writers. The aim is to score praise from established authors whose work has a similar appeal -- a wacky, gay-positive memoirist will try for Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris; a female writer of mordant short stories approaches Mary Gaitskill, and so on -- but these can be nearly impossible to obtain.
The most prominent authors are inundated with such manuscripts, far more than they can ever read, especially if they hope to get on with their real job -- which is, of course, writing their own books. Many have adopted a blanket no-blurb policy, and most of these will at least occasionally wind up departing from that policy, usually for personal reasons. They might do it for a good friend or a former student, or as a favor to their editor or agent.
So when publishing people look at the lineup of testimonials on the back of a new hardcover, they don't see hints as to what the book they're holding might be like. Instead, they see evidence of who the author knows, the influence of his or her agent, and which MFA program in creative writing he or she attended. In other words, blurbs are a product of all the stuff people claim to hate about publishing: its cliquishness and insularity.