Best Opening Lines to Book Reviews

Nick Owchar of the LA Times book blog has a good post on the best opening sentences in book reviews from the past few weeks. My favorites:

Benjamin Jacob Hollars, on Ryan Boudinot’s "The Littlest Hitler," for Bookslut:

"Reading Ryan Boudinot’s short story collection, ‘The Littlest Hitler,’ is a little like stuffing your mouth with Pop Rocks and waiting for the explosion. It’s a little like dismantling a bomb. It’s like inhabiting a world where your brain is in your foot, your heart in your elbow, and yet you remain confident that you are anatomically correct while the world around you is horribly deformed."

*

Lewis Macadams, on the poets Philip Whalen and Joanne Kyger, appearing in this Sunday’s L.A. Times Book Review:

"Philip Whalen and Joanne Kyger are often viewed as ‘poets’ poets’–a kiss of death that generally implies their music is out of most people’s range. But really, what this means is they’re the types of poets to whom other poets turn for their perfect pitch, to proclaim who they are….Whalen and Kyger are essentially School of Backyard poets, who look out their kitchen windows and see the universe."

I’ve written a bunch of book reviews on this blog and frequently read others’ reviews of books in various magazines and blogs. I love reviews. For whatever reason, there’s some hysteria in literary circles that America has a book review crisis. Here’s James Wolcott in TNR – just one take among many.

I also love tracking cool book blurbs. I’ve blogged about the absurd world of blurbs — I’m always on the look out for outrageous back-cover quotes. My friend David told me the other week that the key to a good blurb is "to sound flattering about the book so most people think you love it but people who know you realize you actually think it’s a piece of shit."

2 Responses to Best Opening Lines to Book Reviews

  1. Some people might be surprised to know how many book reviews, and especially cover-blurbs, are written by ‘reviewers’ who’ve never read the book.

  2. good call.

    addict of yelp reviews. also love descriptions of bands. Here is a good one … “Tara Napoli engraves her name on your coffee table and draws moustaches across your art. And how delightfully refreshing it all is!”

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