paper trail

Who are our public intellectuals?

Anita Brookner

After last night’s results, John Cassidy considers the prospect of a fight for the presidency between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Novelist and art historian Anita Brookner, who won the Booker Prize in 1984 for Hotel du Lac, has died. The novelist Hilary Mantel has written that “Brookner is the sort of artist described as minor by people who read her books only once,” whereas, in Mantel’s view, the “singular quality of each, as well as the integrity of the project, is established.” Brookner told The Paris Review, of her autobiographical first novel, A Start in Life, published when she was fifty-three: “My life seemed to be drifting in predictable channels and I wanted to know how I deserved such a fate. I thought if I could write about it I would be able to impose some structure on my experience. It gave me a feeling of being at least in control. It was an exercise in self-analysis, and I tried to make it as objective as possible—no self-pity and no self-justification. But what is interesting about self-analysis is that it leads nowhere—it is an art form in itself.”

“Reading can be revoltingly indulgent. Writers should not necessarily shirk their responsibility to make it so.” Full Stop has the first of a two-part interview with Tony Tulathimutte, author of the novel Private Citizens.

On the New Yorker’s website, Nicolas Niarchos has a piece on the poet Keston Sutherland: “I get the sense that he is trying to convey that his writing, too, is a product, like a carton of orange juice at a supermarket. He makes himself into the puppet that poetry has made of the words he uses, and the puppet that capitalism has, he believes, made of literature. He is aware, in other words, of the violence that he is doing to language.”

A woman in Massachusetts has begun a Kickstarter campaign in which she offers to read some of the works of Jonathan Franzen should funders be willing to bribe her $5,000 or more.

This evening at NYU, writers and editors Jon Baskin (of The Point), Sarah Leonard (of The Nation), and Nikil Saval (of n+1) will participate in what promises to be a lively and insightful roundtable discussion about what it means to be a public intellectual today.