So, today’s publication day, and the book tour begins. I’ve written a novel in which the central character (reluctantly) works in PR and is used to spinning corporate clients out of unattractive crises often of their own making. In The Fix, he’s hired to line up interviews for the winner of a bravery decoration, and manage him through that process.
Which of course means life is now obliged to imitate art, and I’ve got a publicist doing the same thing for me. It’s my job to make my book sound as fascinating as possible for several minutes at a time, perhaps many times a day over the next few weeks. Naturally, I think it is fascinating, and perfect for Father’s Day, birthdays and all sentient creatures, but it’s not that simple. Like Ben in the novel, I need to have my stories ready to go.
I’ve noticed, though, that an element of spin has already crept in without me having to do a thing. If you pick up a copy of the book, you’ll see two quotes on the back. One of them, from the Sydney Morning Herald, says, ‘a genuinely talented writer’. And, okay, someone did say exactly that about me in the SMH (not about The Fix and not even this century, but they said it). But is it the whole story? Not at all.
Here’s the whole story. In 1998, Tegan Bennett (now Tegan Bennett Daylight) reviewed Bachelor Kisses for the SMH. There were some things that frankly repulsed her about the book, but she went out of her way to give it a fair hearing. She seemed genuinely impressed with the writing, but appalled by the way the central character treated women (and fair enough), and that he seemed to get away with it, and that I milked it for every drop of comedy I could.
The review was headed ‘Say aaargh’ – yes, a neat reference to doctors, oral sex and revulsion, in only two words.
The quote that’s now on the back of The Fix came from near the end. On editions of Bachelor Kisses we’ve often used a somewhat longer version, which reads ‘Bachelor Kisses is a beautifully written book by a genuinely talented writer’.
The whole final paragraph actually reads ‘Bah, humbug. Bachelor Kisses is a beautifully written book by a genuinely talented writer. I hope he gets a new subject soon. I’m looking forward to the next one.’ Of course, we weren’t going to use all that, were we? But when you’ve come as close to maker a reviewer vomit as I did, there’s a certain perverse pleasure in finding a quote somewhere in there that you can use, year after year.
Anyone else seen – or used – any cunningly cut-and-pasted quotes on book covers?