paper trail

Inside Republican literature

Ben Carson

In the field of Republican lit this week: George H. W. Bush has decided to weigh in on his son’s presidency: Donald Rumsfeld, he felt, according to his new book, “served the president badly. . . . There’s a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He’s more kick ass and take names, take numbers.” Dick Cheney has responded to the elder Bush’s characterization of him as an “iron-ass” by claiming it as “a mark of pride.” Meanwhile, several journalists have been shouldering the burden of reading the current presidential candidates’ books and letting us know what’s in them: Donald Trump’s new one is apparently full of assertions like: "I have proven everybody wrong. EVERYBODY." (Here’s a helpful ranking of the rest of his oeuvre by quality of cover.) And Ben Carson’s story, according to a man who’s just read five books by him, “is a nearly uninterrupted string of being proved right and smart.” Smart enough, some have suggested, to be leading the race for the GOP nomination simply as a ruse to sell even more books like these.

Arundhati Roy has become one of many writers in India over the past couple of months to give back their national awards in protest at the violent rightwing attacks against intellectuals that have been taking place under Modi’s government. 

One of the less discussed pains of authorship is quitting your job and spending years on a book, only to find your story and sources used without credit on television. (Or: when pitching 60 Minutes, do it in the vaguest possible terms).

To comfort those of us who never get the chance to talk to Karl Ove Knausgaard at parties, Bookforum contributor Kaitlin Phillips paints a dispiriting picture of what it’s like (Zadie Smith, on the other hand, comes off unsurprisingly well).

Restless Books begins its online Don Quixote book group today at 1 pm EST, with a two-hour open discussion led by Quixote scholar Ilan Stavans.