Inglorious Indeed

Joanna Kavenna’s Inglorious is one of the most ludicrous examples I’ve seen yet of the recent propensity (described here) of publishers to slap a chick lit cover on any book written by a woman or about a woman.

I’ll tell you a little more about the book before I unveil the frightful cover. It was a last-gasp addition to my 2008 reading list, picked up in the library because I was vaguely aware that it had won an Orange award and been mentioned in a few best-of-year reading lists.

The basic story is that its protagonist has a bit of an existential crisis one day and quits her well-paid job in journalism, after which things start going a bit pear-shaped for her. Her relationship ends and she stays with a succession of friends while going deeper and deeper into debt as she remains preoccupied with a “search for meaning”. Bit of an eyerolly plot, I know, but it is well-written and often amusing. Fellow GTD wannabes will recoil at her unwieldy to-do-lists (tasks like “Read the complete works of Hegel, Nietzsche and Kant”!) before sheepishly whipping out their own lists to rephrase similar next-action-lacking mistakes. Fellow snarky types will like the self-sabotaging exactitude with which she writes application letters for menial jobs. You can read this extract, which I don’t really think does the book justice, but you will at least gather from it that the writing is not dumbed down for anyone whose favourite author is Sophie Kinsella. I finished the book on Christmas Eve, and would give it three stars.

Now that the stage is set, behold the cover! By the way, poodles don’t feature in the book at all.


  1. Girls like puppys. Fluffy ones. I mean, just scroll down your blog 4 or 5 posts. :D

    Books, DVDs and games (particularly) usually have hideous and/or totally innacurate cover art. For some reason it doesn’t happen with music nearly as much.

  2. Arghy arghy argh argh argh.

    On a related note, I find myself passing over so many books in stores because the covers and general presentation suggest they are meant to be “The next [insert previously successful book]”, i.e. following some kind of formula or occupying some kind of niche. I know many perfectly decent books will have similarities in tone or subject matter with other perfectly decent books, but once the packaging appears to me to be designed to suggest “If you liked X you’ll love Y!” I just cheesed off. Even though it’s probably the fault of the booksellers for not grasping that people who love books don’t work like that, rather than anything to do with the innate quality of the writing itself, it just bugs the hell out of me.

  3. It doesn’t bug me much as a reader and I can’t see myself ever actually passing over a book because of its cover. I just feel bad for the author who has to accept the indignity of that cover in order to (hopefully) sell books. Also can’t help thinking that anyone who was attracted to the book due to that cover would be sorely disappointed once they read it, which seems counter-productive. But I guess by that point they’ve already spent the money.

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