I swiveled my chair away from the dirty window, and sneered at the advance review copies piled high on my desk. The books didn’t scare me. I’d blurb all or some or none of them as I damned well pleased.

“Let the junior editors complain,” I muttered, rolling a cigarette. “It’s been a long time since I burst into tears because a publishing house didn’t get its jacket copy before deadline.”

But despite the tough-guy patter, my checking account consisted of three pieces of gum and a grimace. So I grabbed a glass and a bottle from my desk drawer, pulled the top ARC off the pile, cracked my knuckles, and started typing:


I have two words for anyone who can’t see the simple beauty of the bildungsroman you’re holding. The first word is a short, guttural, single-syllable verb. The second one is “you.”


This book’s world reeks of the night, of shadows, of alleys, and of apartment buildings with high turnover rates. It’s a world where Lyft drivers take wrong turns and bartenders pour watered-down scotch into smeared shot glasses. It’s a world that either makes you sick or you get to like it. I recommend the latter.


Reading this memoir reminded me of a regrettable incident I experienced on a Murphy bed. It’d been folded up in the apartment wall of my memory till now, so thanks for the flashback, author. You’re a talented bastard, and I’m the worse for it.


Who wrote this book? It doesn’t matter. It’s a story with sex and sailors and mounted policemen. Those results speak for themselves.


Ordinarily, nothing turns my stomach quicker than hearing an artist’s work “reminds us what it is to be human.” A glass of Bacardi, a midnight walk in the fog, and a kidney punch are the only reminders I need. Yet these belles lettres might also qualify.


I don’t like professors of literature. Even if I did, I wouldn’t like professors of literature who are poets. And even if I liked professors of literature who are poets, I still wouldn’t like a book written by one. But dammit to hell, reader, I did.


An author who only writes short stories is like a drinker who says “when.” If they have to be careful not to overdo it, they’re not to be trusted at all. As for this novel, it’s almost a thousand pages long, and I loved every goddamned one of them.


Listen, I’m on a first-name basis with every homicide cop, bookie, junkie, jockey and two-bit bookseller from L.A. to Frisco, and maybe, just maybe, one of them would enjoy an anthology of nature writing like this.


Outside, I can hear the dull moan of the foghorn at Alcatraz, and it’s telling me that you’re drunk and I’m drunk and this writer was probably drunk when she wrote this biography. But I like her work. If you want to know why, just ask me. Go ahead: ask me.


As far as I could read, this was supposed to be a riveting tale of one man’s spiritual journey. But as far as I could read wasn’t very far.


I understood everything about this mystery except why it has more plot holes than a macramé plant holder. Now maybe this isn’t the author’s idea of a nice blurb to write. But when he’s blurbed by me, he’ll take and he’ll like it.


“Well, that’s that,” I said to nobody in particular, stubbing out my last cigarette. Sure, I’d gotten a little tired there at the end, but those marketing bastards had gotten more blurbs from me than I have clean shirts in my closet. If they couldn’t make something of them, they were in the wrong business.

Then again, writing is always the wrong business. Some of us are just too dumb to realize it.

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