Truth in Advertising

October 16, 2007 | 2 books mentioned 1

coverThough we try to pass over blog-bait, we can’t resist directing your attention to the print ad campaign for the paperback version of Jonathan Franzen’s The Discomfort Zone. “From the acclaimed memoir by the author of The Corrections” runs the copy, above several blurbs:

  • “Funny, masterfully composed” – Gregory Kirschling, Entertainment Weekly
  • “[A] total lack of humor…perverse” – Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Times Book Review
  • “Luminous, essential reading” – Tim Adams, The Observer (London)
  • “Odious…incredibly annoying” – Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

This is postmodern advertising at its best: honest, funny, provocative… and almost enough to reconsider our decision not to read the book.

[Editor’s note: We wish we could find a version of this ad online, but Harper’s readers can find it on page 51 of the November issue]

is the author of City on Fire and A Field Guide to the North American Family. In 2017, he was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists.

One comment:

  1. Yeah, it is postmodern and funny, and the same tactic worked on me with Chip Kidd's The Cheese Monkeys, which included both cheers and jeers among the blurbs on the back cover. Unfortunately I was barely able to finish that annoying, unnecessarily self-satisfied book, and it's left me distrustful of the tactic itself.

    Even though I like Franzen's essays and The Corrections, I don't know that I'll be rushing to pick up The Discomfort Zone. Kakutani's loathing makes it a tempting purchase, but not tempting enough.

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