Cliche of the Week 16 – Unputdownable

September 14, 2010 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

One way to cut through the hype of book descriptions is to look at the use by reviewers of the non-word unputdownable.

While the marketing departments at publishers love to see unputdownable in a review, it doesn’t feel right to the editors who worry over words as a calling. Unputdownable, while conveying instant meaning, isn’t considered a word by purists.

So far reviewers have been using this sparingly, mostly about thrillers, about once every second day by mainstream media somewhere in the world and five times as much online.

The Passage by Justin Cronin must be a riveting read. It has had at least two recent reviews using unputdownable. The Globe and Mail in Canada on June 12 described the book as a “colossus of an apocalyptic thriller” with skilful prose and an “unputdownable plot“.

It’s not known which reviewer first used unputdownable, but it was used in The Washington Post by Michele Slung in March 1984 in a report on the book The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film.

And here’s more …

The electronic world: “I’m afraid that my experience could be typical of a generation who are coming to find that their laptops are the most “unputdownable” read of all.” (Susie Rushton in the London Independent, August 25)

 And then there’s the opposite. “Emma Donoghue’s new novel, which has been longlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize, is almost the opposite of unputdownable. It is, in fact, very difficult to pick up – so disturbing is its subject matter. A young woman and her five-year-old son, Jack, live together as prisoners locked in an 11 sq ft room. A television and a bed, a few books and feeble toys are all they have.” Financial Times review of Room by Emma Donoghue, August 21

“Cornelia Funke is an incredible, virtually faultless writer. The Ink trilogy was phenomenal, The Thief Lord unputdownable.” Birmingham Post, August 12

 “A generous dose of humour is injected into the text, which has a racy unputdownable quality to it.” The Hindu, August 1, about the book The Fifty-50 Marriage: Return to Intimacy “an ode to the great, big, crowded, confused (and often doomed) Indian marriage”.

“This will draw you in from page one and have you racing to the finish. Unputdownable.” The Ice Cream Girls – Dorothy Koomson in the Bournemouth Echo, July 24

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