Reading like a Bureaucrat


Excerpt from Merve Emre's new book, Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America. She is an assistant professor of English at McGill University.

"Before September 15, 1956, media-shy novelist William Faulkner had never sent a letter of solicitation to his literary friends, let alone one written at the behest of Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower. But that Saturday morning in Oxford, Mississippi, Faulkner set aside work on his novel The Town (1957) to draft the invitation letter for Eisenhower’s new People-to-People Initiative (PTPI): an independent, private organization of Americans who would travel around the Soviet bloc to promote “friendly contact” and “person-to-person communication”—this according to a White House press release issued months before Eisenhower’s 1956 reelection campaign against Adlai Stevenson."

Read more: The Baffler