Blurb this! McClelland & Stewart edition

March 9, 2015 by · 5 Comments 

Persona_Non_Grata_Tom_Flanagan“Flanagan raises some provocative questions about the limits of free speech to engage in theoretical speculation that tests the boundaries of conventional wisdom or morality. There is also a persuasive argument to be made against the judgmental impulse of an Internet lynch mob capable of destroying lives without recourse to due process or considered thought. Unfortunately, these salient points are drowned in a sea of self-serving, pugilistic rhetoric.”

Steven W. Beattie on Tom Flanagan’s Persona Non Grata, Quill & Quire, April 2014

***

“‘Flanagan raises provocative questions about the limits of free speech to engage in theoretical speculation that tests the boundaries of conventional wisdom or morality. A persuasive argument against the judgmental impulse of an Internet lynch mob capable of destroying lives without recourse to due process of considered thought.’ Quill & Quire

– Paperback edition of Tom Flanagan’s Persona Non Grata, March 2015

This one is particularly egregious, for a number of reasons. First, there is the blatant manipulation of the second sentence to make it sound as though the quote says precisely the opposite of what it does say in context. Second, this blurb appears on a page with the header, “Praise for Persona Non Grata: The Death of Free Speech in the Internet Age.”

But perhaps most galling is the blinding irony in appending a bastardized quote to a book focused in large part on the dangers of taking someone’s words out of context.

Comments

5 Responses to “Blurb this! McClelland & Stewart edition”
  1. Alex says:

    I’m not sure the blurb is made to say “precisely the opposite” of what it says in context.” The original phrasing is ambiguous, isn’t it? You say there’s a persuasive argument “to be made” but you’re not clear if Flanagan makes it (and it is drowned in rhetoric). Otherwise, sure they’re cherry-picking.

  2. It’s not just cherry-picking, though. They actually rewrote the sentence to make it say what they wanted it to say. (The “of” is not a typo, by the way. That’s how it appears in the book.)

  3. Rebecca says:

    Ugh, this is bad–sorry. To cast a little light on the situation, when I was an intern and knew nothing about anything, one my jobs was to comb through reviews and find positive comments for blurb pages. I’m sure no one ever checked my source materials to see if I took anything out of context–and I’m sure I had no idea at the time that taking the one positive bit of a negative paragraph wasn’t a brilliant idea. I would never have rewritten a sentence, however–can’t explain how that would happen.

  4. Alex says:

    You shouldn’t think of it as “rewriting.” You should think of it as “silently edited, for clarity.” Consider your words as bread thrown upon the media waters . . .

  5. Just catching up with TSR — this is super creepy, Steven. Did you contact them directly? Just curious, as I’ve had similar things happen and when I’ve complained nothing was done/changed. One example, I wrote a pan in G&M several years back on the first Dropped Threads anthology that Carol Shields co-edited.( I recall only liking about three of the two dozen or so essays, but my “rave” stayed on the website for years.) When movie promoters run these bastardized huzzas, I just roll my eyes, but I hold (perhaps naively) publishers to a higher standard.