Lite of the Mind (a light-hearted look at all things Chicago)

Contested ideas

A parody column gave David Brooks, AB’83, his big break. Now it’s his turn to be on the other end of the satirical pen.

By Jason Kelly
Photography by Josh Haner/New York Times


New York Times columnist David Brooks, AB’83, received what he calls “the big break of my professional life” after he wrote a William F. Buckley parody in the Maroon. On a visit to the University, Buckley read the satirical takedown of his memoir and offered fourth-year Brooks a job on the spot.

Now, we're not making any promises. We’re just saying, with that “big break” story in mind, how could you not enter the Magazine’s David Brooks Column Parody Contest? Knowing, as you will in five, four, three … that Brooks himself will read the best entries and select the winners.

Brooks has developed a reputation as a rigorous intellectual. A “true public thinker,” presidential adviser David Axelrod, AB’76, said in a New York magazine profile that dubbed Brooks “A Reasonable Man.” Despite his famously rational, analytical style, the article noted that the high-profile Times platform gives Brooks the experience of being, as he put it, "hated on a mass scale."

We at the Magazine, on the other hand, want to flatter him in the sincerest form. Well, we want you to do it for us. Write 500 words analyzing anything on the socio-cultural-politico-intellectual spectrum—from Afghanistan to the zeitgeist—in your best Brooksian prose.
The Magazine's editors will cull the most knee-slappingly centrist, most side-splittingly sober, most fire-breathingly bipartisan, most spit-takingly intelligent entries for Brooks to public-think about and select the winners.

Please send your entries, no more than 500 words, by January 1 to The writers of the best parodies, which will be published in the Mar–Apr/11 issue, will receive a signed copy of a Brooks book. And who knows what else.