Writer and blogger Dan Coffey had a marvelous idea: why not blog a lot of blurbs on books he picked up at AWP. In Dan's blog series Sublurbia, that's exactly what he did, and the array is fascinating. Some of my favorite phrases from these blurbs:
"a wedding that is also an articulate division"
"this book unfurls like a ready-made litany of misspelled youth" (that's misspelled, not misspent)
"how autobiographies can be and not be"
"celebrating our slutty embodiment in a studied poetry"
But this is truly my favorite:
"In this book Ezra Pound goes in drag as H.D.’s sister"
Here's my blurb on Mary Biddinger's wonderful book, Saint Monica. I may never be asked to blurb again if I can't come up with something more colorful and/or inscrutable.
In Kevin Jackson's wonderfully odd book, Invisible Forms, he has a chapter on the blurb as a literary form. In it he says, "the poet Marianne Moore was also generous with her blurbing -- so much so that an entire section of her Collected Prose is given over to a gathering of copy for other writers' dust jackets ... she may well be the supreme mistressof several blurbish sub-genres, including the blurb tepid:
"I find him prepossessing." (On John Ashbery.)
And the blurb bizarre:
"His absence of affectation is one of the rarest things on earth. Towards a Better Life is a book to annotate. Un-stodgy he!" (On Kenneth Burke)
Kevin Jackson also cites the popular, cute one-liner option:
Kevin Jackson is a recovering werewolf.
If you have a stack of books to blurb or review, feel free to steal from all the above sources.