Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beware the Boys In Marketing

Was your trade paperback of BULLET PARK by John Cheever published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House? Then heed this warning: DON'T READ THE BACK! The boys in marketing over at Vintage Books, a division of Random House, have taken it on themselves to try to ruin the book for you. I did not read the back. I just picked up the book from my friendly friends at Square Books and started reading. When I got to page 169 last night, there was the merest hint of an unexpected, action-packed shift in the plot, enough of a hint to make the reader say "WHAT?" and "HOLY SMOKES!" and "NO WAY!" and "I must be going CRAZY!" and "Is THIS what the book's about?" and "HOLY MOLEY!" and "GEEZ LOUISE!" That's when the reader turns over the book and says, "Huh. It IS what the book's about!" and drops dead from amazement. Isn't that a nicer surprise than finding out at the very beginning, when you usually pick up the book at the bookstore and turn it over to read the description of the plot? DON'T! I don't know what's going to happen (I put the book down for the evening shortly after my disappointing look at the back) but it's a short book, and whatever is going to happen is going to happen soon, so not too much of my reading was ruined for me. But had I read the back of the book at the beginning, I would have been reading in a whole different way, my mind focused on the big looming conflict that I knew about the whole time, and I wouldn't have been able to really enjoy the book the way it was meant to be enjoyed. I was lucky. Others are not so fortunate. They read the back. Remember, kids: The boys in marketing may not have your best interests as a reader at heart. Don't read the back. DON'T EVER READ THE BACK. This has been a public service announcement.