Author Gary Shteyngart Reveals Why He Willingly Blurbs His Brains Out

If you’re an author of lit­er­ary fic­tion, you’d do well to shoot fel­low author Gary Shteyn­gart an advance copy of that soon-to-be-pub­lished mas­ter­piece you’ve got in the pipeline. He won’t just love the book, he’ll blurb it, thus telegraph­ing your insid­er sta­tus to the estab­lish­ment and read­ers in the know. It’s a far from an exclu­sive club. As author Levi Ash­er notes in the video above, Shteyn­gart’s the sort of men­sch who will­ing­ly blurbs his friends. Also friends of friends. Dit­to strangers. (For­mer stranger Karen Rus­sell won­ders if per­haps some agent-deployed fruit bas­ket was respon­si­ble for gar­ner­ing her some of  Shteyn­gart’s “swa­mi mag­ic”.)

The insou­ciant qual­i­ty of the typ­i­cal Shteyn­gart endorse­ment is not intend­ed to tele­graph any insin­cer­i­ty on his part. His mis­sion is secur­ing read­ers for the sort of titles indie book­stores hold dear, and in order for that mis­sion to suc­ceed, he has to gen­er­ate blurbs by the bushel. He may not get to the end of every vol­ume he cham­pi­ons, but he makes it deep enough to get a gen­er­al sense that such a thing might be plea­sur­able.

His high­ly pub­lic will­ing­ness to clam­or aboard oth­er authors’ band­wag­ons has been described as both promis­cu­ity and per­for­mance art. It has inspired a tum­blr, and now the tongue-in-cheek mini-doc­u­men­tary above. Nar­rat­ed by Jonathan Ames, it fea­tures a cav­al­cade of grate­ful New York City-based lit stars, game­ly striv­ing to exude the sort of dev­il-may-care buoy­an­cy at which their hero excels.

Thanks to Edward C. for send­ing this along.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The Book Trail­er as Self-Par­o­dy: Stars Gary Shteyn­gart with James Fran­co Cameo

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day’s best known book was blurbed by Stephen Col­bert.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.