A Life in Paragraphs: Essays

book cover: A Life in Paragraphs: Essays by Robert Fulford

A Life in Paragraphs is published in September 2020 by Optimum Publishing, with an introduction by Ian Brown.

Robert Fulford once described himself as "an omni journalist" — there was nothing in journalism he hadn't done. As a writer, editor and broadcaster, Fulford's been producing copy for seven decades, allowing his curiosity to range over a vast territory: jazz, the visual arts, architecture, city planning, museums, archeology, literature, theatre, film and politics.

In this collection of selected essays, Fulford attempts to illuminate every subject he touches, including the Bible, adultery, academic prose and the vagaries of human memory. He discusses the work of Alice Munro, Philip Roth, Sigmund Freud and Margaret Atwood. He explains the relationship between Walter Benjamin and the creation of malls, and he explores why the Times Literary Supplement is neither literary nor a supplement.

Readers will appreciate anew the quality of mind of this public intellectual, the inevitability of his chosen profession, and how, as a frequent writer of the obituaries of others, he thinks about his own death.


"One thing I really admire about Robert Fulford's essays, apart from their calm erudition and the certainty of their judgement, is the boggling range of subjects he wraps his mind around, everything from television to the tango, from H.G. Wells's sexual affairs to parataxis in the King James Bible."
-- Ian Brown, columnist for The Globe and Mail, author of Boy In The Moon

"A Robert Fulford essay is like a crisp dry martini: crystalline, refreshing, elating. An elegant craftsman in full command of the language, his work glows with dazzling insights, a profound humanity and gregarious good humour. The man's a master."
-- Michael Enright, CBC Radio host

"Robert Fulford has often enough been the lonely but eloquent conscience for Canada. His crusading humanity, lean prose and inner steel made a monument of acute insight of his 'Notebook' in Saturday Night, and this vivid collection of essays more than reinforces the point."
-- John Fraser, author of The Chinese and Eminent Canadians

"If you are lucky enough to spend time with someone who is incorrigibly curious, brainy, mordantly funny, passionate but always, always, companionable, then you know what it's like to savour an essay by Robert Fulford."
-- Katherine Ashenburg, author of Sofie & Cecilia

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