Illustration by Paul Spella / The Atlantic. Source: Getty.

Blurbs have always been controversial—too clichéd, too subject to cronyism—but lately, as review space shrinks and the noise level of the marketplace increases, the pursuit of ever more fawning praise from luminaries has become absurd. Even the most minor title now comes garlanded with quotes hailing it as the most important book since the Bible, while authors report getting so many requests that some are opting out of the practice altogether.