What are Intellectuals Good For? on Fresh Air

by Harry on April 29, 2009

Maureen Corrigan reviewed sometime CT commenter George Scialabba’s new book What Are Intellectuals Good For? on Fresh Air last night. I’m only about half way through it myself, and am reading in the chaotic way that I tend to read collections (moving randomly between chapters at whim — though to be honest I read just about everything other than detective stories the same way), but I agree with her very positive review so far, especially enjoying the several invocations and discussions of Matthew Arnold whom Scialabba admires greatly. She says:

What Are Intellectuals Good For?, has been published in a beautiful paperback edition by the tiny Pressed Wafer. No one could expect it to be a stealth best-seller. But if you’re at all interested in 20th century thinkers like Noam Chomsky, Dwight Macdonald, William F. Buckley, Ellen Willis and Christopher Lasch to name a few, and in the larger question of whether the world would be poorer if they’d never written a word, then you’ll find Scialabba’s ruminations here invigorating. In fact, just reading Scialabba’s collection will make you feel smarter — even if it’s not clear if that kind of smarts has any direct social utility.

In fact I’d take issue with a little bit of that. It makes me feel stupider, not smarter, but I like books that do that. And I don’t, really, see why it shouldn’t become a stealth best seller. The in-progress CT book event will, no doubt, transform it at least into a stealth pretty-good-seller. (In fact, at time of posting it is #112 at amazon, no doubt somewhat helped by her review).



Margaret Atherton 04.29.09 at 4:39 pm

Already it’s out of stock on Amazon. Such is fame. (Shop your local independent bookstore.)


PGD 04.29.09 at 5:13 pm

Sign me up, I’m buying it.


Henry 04.29.09 at 5:23 pm

I spotted the sales rank independently, as the book popped up as a recommended buy when I was trying to buy something else. Which suggests that a (positive, in this case) ‘rich get richer’ phenomenon may kick in …


gs 04.29.09 at 5:55 pm

Oh no. I find it worthwhile to mention yet again that amazon is sold out. Bummer.


George Scialabba (aka geo) 04.29.09 at 11:17 pm

To my fellow gs, and anyone else of whatever initials: you can also get the book from the publisher: Pressed Wafer, 9 Columbus Square, Boston MA 02116, Bevcobett@aol.com. $15 (such a deal!)


Satia 04.30.09 at 6:09 pm

Please make an effort – link your books to Powell’s (not amazon). Independent is better, don’t you think?

Much appreciated.


jerry minkow 04.30.09 at 8:24 pm

I’m trying to order “What are Intellectuals Good For?” and I’m
having a hell of time finding it. Please advise.

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