Customers often bring me books off the shelves and ask me if I can tell them anything about them. There are times when I’ve read it, didn’t like it, and don’t want to admit it- this customer could love it! It could be their kryptonite! There are also times when I haven’t read it but have heard Some Interesting Things about it. In times like these, I reach into my bag of bookseller euphemisms- phrases that I’ve noticed I use when I don’t want to say exactly what I think (or what I’ve heard) about a certain tome. Here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet:
It’s a Bit Like Ayn Rand: The author uses dialogue or long, long…long speeches to delineate the theme or his or her worldview. Character One: Today I paid taxes. Character Two: TAXES ARE SATANIC EXCEPT THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SATAN LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS FOR 70 PAGES WITH NO INTERJECTIONS.
It’s Like Reading Murakami: Reading this book is an experience similar to living inside someone’s lucid dream, where there is a lot of food and weird sex. And possibly cats.
It’s Like a Grown-Up Hunger Games: It is the future and there are characters who are not old men. It’s violent and/or involves someone having to survive something harrowing. There is no romance. Only sadness. Sadness and despair.
It’s Great if You Like Downton Abbey: It’s set in England during a war. I think there’s a maid in it.
It’s Dickensian: When an author, desirous of detailing minutia in an effort to paint a full picture of a time, place, or character, uses All The Commas; additionally, he takes advantage of semicolons and other punctuation…usually in one page-long sentence so packed with clauses that the reader tends to lose the subject. You will love it in spite of this.
It Reminded Me of The Great Gatsby (or something by Edith Wharton/Evelyn Waugh): It’s about rich people doing stupid things. Every single character is annoying.
It’s Very Atmospheric: Did you see Moulin Rouge? It’s like that.
It Has a Magical Realism Element: It’s not as good as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but a woman may turn into a fantastical being and fly away at some point. People probably talk to ghosts.
It’s Gut Wrenching: You’re holding The Things They Carried.
It’s Heart Wrenching: You’re holding The Remains of the Day.
Well, It’s a Re-telling of Pride and Prejudice/Jane Eyre/Romeo and Juliet: Put that down. Not really, buy it.
It’s Very Literary: It’s very boring.
It Reminded Me of Alice in Wonderland: The author was obviously, totally, completely on drugs when he wrote this.