The Team Test

A thought experiment: think of a non-fiction writer whose work you admire, and imagine that the writer and yourself have been assigned to the same team for a work project. What would your immediate reaction be?

Writers I would be more than happy to work with: Ian Hacking, Mary Beard, Bertrand Russell, Umberto Eco, William James. With some trepidation: Auden, Brian Eno, Brigid Brophy.

Oh, dear god, no: Shaw, Robert Hughes.

(I don’t admire either but I thought of this test when trying to articulate my objections to the anonymous knobs who write The Economist or Christopher Hitchens, I can’t remember which. Imagine working with Hitchens. Stop laughing at the back. By the way, did you know that Hitchens defended David Irving? I only found out the other week, and I think it bears repeating.)

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One response to “The Team Test

  1. A big hell yeah to: Diana Athill, Sybille Bedford, Leslie Chang, Edmund De Waal, Delia Falconer, Martin Gardner, Atul Gawande, Peter Hessler, Tony Judt, John Maynard Keynes, David Marr, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Mary Roach, Simon Schama, Rebecca Skloot, Rebecca Solnit, Timothy Snyder.

    I Would Prefer Not To: Hannah Arendt, David Deutsch, Richard Feynman, Michael Lewis, Norman Maclean, Janet Malcolm, Art Spiegelman, Rory Stewart.

    The difference seems to be ego. (Theirs, I suppose hypothetically pitted against mine.)

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