A conversation on a friend’s journal prompted the discovery of a new game, which all the family can play in the comfort of the comments section of this post.
The idea is to write a brief publisher’s blurb for a well-known book, that avoids spoilering it. This is, of course, particularly tricky when a big plot twist, or unexpected transformation in what sort of book it actually is, is a major feature of the enjoyability of the reading experience. You don’t want to give it all away, but you also don’t want to undersell the book based just on how it initially starts to read.
So there are various ways you can do well at this game. You could write a puzzle blurb which, while entirely accurate about the book’s initial setup scenario, so avoids the major twist that it’s difficult to work out what book it actually is. You could write a bathos blurb about an amazingly exciting book in such a way that it sounds incredibly dull, because of the avoidance of spoilers. You could try to write a sincere blurb that really does a good job of making people think “this book sounds interesting” while not mentioning the most interesting thing about it. You could decide for yourself what will be most challenging / fun / silly / whatever! Or you can take part from the other end, guessing what the books are that are being blurbed.
And, of course, style points are awarded for sticking closely to the curious kind of prose that book blurbs use.
Here’s a couple of my own examples from the earlier conversation, which go for the bathos approach:
- “Four children go to stay with their great-uncle and are very bored… until one of them discovers something exciting at the back of a large wardrobe.”
- “Alice, feeling hot and sleepy on the riverbank, sees a rabbit go down a hole. But this is no ordinary rabbit…”
And a funnier one, from onebyone:
- “A solicitor takes an entire chapter just in travelling to Eastern Europe to do some conveyancing for a local bigwig. The locals are stereotypically superstitious. Towards the end of chapter two, something distinctly uncanny happens, but it would be, like, a total spoiler to say what caused it. Chapter three promises to start getting into the details of the conveyancing. Please read me anyway.”
But you can do better! Go on, prove me right.