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A Publicist in the Old Sense

In response to:

The Sweet Smell of Hipness from the April 9, 2020 issue

To the Editors:

In my review of Glenn O’Brien’s Intelligence for Dummies [NYR, April 9], I referred in passing to O’Brien as a “publicist.” I reached for that word, which once meant “journalist” and gradually extended into advertising and promotion, as a handy portmanteau that would cover his literary and advertising activities. I trusted that a full account of his work would preclude his being associated with the more recent meaning of the term. Evidently I was wrong, so I would like to make it clear that O’Brien was never a press agent or a public relations consultant.

Luc Sante
Kingston, New York