Benjamin Nugent

» Episode 6: National Obsessions

“Before I launch into a discussion of what a nerd is and where the idea of nerds comes from, I'd like to disclose that when I was eleven, I had a rich fantasy life in which I carried a glowing staff.”

Benjamin Nugent grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. His first book, Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, about the late singer-songwriter, was published in 2004. The Chicago Sun-Times said, “(Nugent) did his research and left few stones unturned in telling Smith’s relatively short and very sad story.” Nugent was an original member of the indie-rock band The Cloud Room.

He has also written for The New York Times Magazine, Time, New York, Good, and the literary journal n+1, which published his essay “Why Don’t Republicans Write Fiction?” In that piece, Nugent found the literary ranks on the right-hand side of the political spectrum very thin. He wrote:

“Recently I embarked on a monthlong hunt for Republican writers of what's commonly called literary fiction. . . . I wanted to talk to them, to find out what they thought of their minority status—whether they thought the publishing world was arrayed against them, or had other explanations for the apparent predominance of their liberal counterparts. . . . But I couldn't find them.”

In a piece for the New York Times Magazine that foreshadowed his new book, American Nerd, Nugent wrote:

“While the word ‘nerd’ has been used since the 1950s, its origin remains elusive. Nerds, however, are easy to find everywhere. Being a nerd has become a widely accepted and even proud identity, and nerds have carved out a comfortable niche in popular culture.”

See what others are saying:

High Pants Forever
by Jim Windolf The New York TImes, June 1, 2008.

Other books by this author
book Elliott Smith And The Big Nothing
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