Throughout our careers we have been approached by various publishers and publications to write fancy blurbs to promote the work of others – here is a collection of requested blurbs that never made the backs of books.
Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain – Roger Deakin
For us, the city dwellers, swimming is an activity defined by its mundane repetition – the slow back and forth of lengths, chlorine scented hair, the perimeters of our excursion set by orange lane-ropes. Waterlog explores a different sense of the word. Deakin champions swimming as a means of travel, from cove to cliff, and through the liminal spaces of our thoughts.
Waterways were once the arteries of Britain, an island surrounded and defined by its canals and oceans. Slowly, we have lost touch with these pieces of ourselves – they have become repositories for industrial waste and privatised leisure sites, encased in signs that read, Beware, Keep Out, Do Not.
To read Waterlog is to be submerged yourself, shoulder deep in the thick mud of riverbanks and the brine of coastal currents, and this, I think, is what Deakin would want; to close the final pages cleaning silt and sand from our limbs, hungry for the water.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy
Taking us from the corners of the haveli in Old Delhi, to the blood soaked streets of Kashmir, to the dense forests of central India that echo revolutionary gunfire, the novel tells the story of Anjum, the owner of the graveyard guest house, Musa, the firebrand, the ever- elusive Tilo, and Garson Hobart of the secret intelligence, as they struggle to navigate the many sides of the Kashmir war. The story is narrated in whispers, through song, through dusty, archived documents and interrupted interviews, and in various pitches and tones, but insists on being heard.
Arundhati Roy weaves a story of betrayal, loss, personal triumph, regret, and all the heartbreaking emotions that connect her characters despite religious, caste, and cultural differences. Roy’s characters must learn to hold onto the last shreds of their humanity when navigating a world rife with political violence that promises an Apocalypse, and is blind to the devastating collateral that it leaves in its wake.
Mistborn Book One, The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn features, a unique world and one of the most dynamic protagonists in fantasy, as well as what is now Sanderson’s trademark – a fresh, complex and nigh scientific approach to magic, which in this case is more visceral than ever.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—Jonathan Safran Foer
Their favourite game was Reconnaissance Expedition.
Two years after his father’s death in 9/11, Oskar finds a key. Compelled by the need to prove his love for his father, Oskar wanders through New York city, trying to solve the puzzle and find the lock to match. As he struggles through his seemingly impossible task, Oskar shows us the individuality of trauma and how we attempt to cope with it—the secrets we keep to protect others and the isolation integral to grief. Interwoven with the narratives of Oskar’s grandparents, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close forces the reader to confront the pain of loss and the importance of attempting to live a life after death.
The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater
Ronan Lynch can take anything he wants right out of his dreams. But how much is a mystical hereditary power really worth when it’s always the wrong dreams that slip through the cracks into the waking world and they can’t make the lawyers let you back into your beloved ancestral home and they can’t make someone love you back and they can’t magic your best friend’s car into existence again after you wrecked it drag racing the local drug-dealing bad boy. The second gripping novel in Maggie Stiefvater’s acclaimed ‘Raven Cycle’ deals in secrets of all kinds, especially ones that will out.
Catcher in the Rye- JD Salinger
Holden Caulfield really couldn’t care less about being kicked out of school for the fourth time. Truly. The place was full of creeps and phonies who beat him up for no reason and didn’t clean their razors after shaving – and besides, he’d have been coming home for the holidays in two days’ time. Rather than bother his parents with the news of his expulsion, he wanders underground New York searching for solace, or at the very least, a decent conversation. How hard can that bed? In jazz bars and motel rooms and record shops, he organises fleeting meetings with old flings, nuns, prostitutes and past English teachers. But Holden can’t find what he’s looking for. Maybe he’ll have to sneak home, after all. The only person he wants to see – the only one who’ll understand – is his 11 year old sister Phoebe.
Wonder – RJ Palacio
Auggie was born with a significant facial difference. He has been home schooled since the age of four, and now, at the age of ten, he is to attend a mainstream school for the first time. His classmates and their parents don’t see Auggie as a normal kid, all they see him as is other.
This book shows the innocence which belongs to children and the cost of adults with many preconceived ideas. This book is for all that feel unseen or different in society. It is both heart-warming and heart wrenching, showing the high cost of simple relationships and the hope for acceptance.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Murders, bacchanals, and millionaire college students aren’t the most relatable topics. Yet the exhilaration of finding your first group of adult friends away from home, and the tension as things change, is why I reread this book obsessively. Every time I turn over some fragment that makes me reconsider it in a completely new light, much as I find my own experience of adulthood to be constantly flux. For me, The Secret History (minus multiple murders) encapsulates the transition into adulthood, and the risk inherent in the pursuit of happiness, particularly the lines ‘Genuine beauty is always quite alarming’ and ‘Live forever,’ often quoted, but still striking.
Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown
Often regaled as a lesbian classic full of sex and social climbing, Rubyfruit Jungle is, for me, something slightly different. It is essentially a bildungsroman, telling of a woman’s life from childhood to her mid-twenties – think Anne of Green Gables with added swearing. The first chapters are awash with intense, sensual details of Molly’s early life in rural America in the mid twentieth century, from food to nature to family routine. It then moves into more adult territory but with sensitivity, and a huge amount of humour, with brilliant set pieces positioned regularly throughout the novel, each building up to a brilliant, hilarious climax.
Molly’s experience with her sexuality is akin to my own – she quietly gets on with her relationships with women, but when challenged will defend herself, as to her being queer is completely ordinary and enjoyable. She also sees no reason why being poor or a woman should stop her from achieving her dreams of being a film director, and soldiers on against the adversity she faces. At the end of the novel, she is far from her goal but, teeth gritted and hopeful, she is absolutely convinced that she will make it if it takes her whole life. This novel was transformational to my attitude to my own life and identity, and really comforted me.