paper trail

The Paranoid Style

Marco Rubio

In what is perhaps an ominous sign of the times, Merriam Webster has named the suffix ”-ism” as the word of the year. The dictionary reports that words such as racism, fascism, and socialism were often looked up this year, beating out also-rans such as marriage, respect, and inspiration. Meanwhile, Google has posted its “Year in Search” offering a deeper look into the queries on everyone’s mind.

After last night’s Republican debate, it might be a good time to revisit Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which Harper’s Magazine has helpfully placed in front of its paywall. Hofstadter writes, “The paranoid spokesman . . . traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization.” Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, for those who feel there’s too much money sloshing around political campaigns, look at it this way: It’s always nice when a writer gets paid.

We know that Obama was reading Lauren Groff this year, but what was Lauren Groff reading?

For Karl Ove Knausgaard, after the magnum opus comes the listicle: “I ended up writing about ten things that made life worth living and ten things that made me want to shoot myself. The editor quit and the project was canceled before I turned it in, but in that brief form I’d found something that appealed to me. So I continued writing.”

Businessweek makes its staffers compile a list of every piece they wish they’d written this year. If only more magazine writers would make lists of those they wish they hadn’t! We might try it in 2016.

Artist Mary Ramsden and novelist Adam Thirlwell have a created a digital artist’s book, “RadioPaper,” with five new “super-short stories” by Thirlwell.