paper trail

Benjamin Kunkel files a report from Boulder; Richard Wright’s lost novel

Richard Wright. Photo: Gordon Parks/Library of Congress

At the London Review of Books, Benjamin Kunkel files a dispatch from Boulder, after the shootings. “In A Room with a View, E.M. Forster complains of ‘the ghoulish fashion in which respectable people will nibble after blood.’ The era of gun massacres in the US has coincided with the rise of social media, and the respectable way to nibble after blood is now to use the dead as ideological counters in posts on Facebook and Twitter. It isn’t enough to reiterate the plain truth that the assault weapons used in mass shootings must be banned and confiscated. Instead, every fresh atrocity must be recruited into everyone’s preferred single-factor sociological narrative.”

Richard Wright considered his novel The Man Who Lived Underground to be his best. His publishers, dismayed by the novel’s portrayal of police brutality of an innocent Black man, turned it down. In April, almost eighty years after it was written, the book, of which only portions have seen print, will be published in full by the Library of America.

The Our Struggle podcast’s interview with Sontag author Benjamin Moser will be posted this week.

Print book sales this month are up 37 percent compared with sales figures from March 2020.

Elisabeth Egan pays tribute to Beverly Cleary. “To read Cleary’s books as a child in the 1980s was to feel not just seen, but noticed by a benevolent soul.”

Larry McMurtry—the best-selling author of Lonesome Dove, which won the Pulitzer in 1986, The Last Picture Show, and many other novels—has died at eighty-four. In addition to writing novels, McMurtry wrote screenplays (“Brokeback Mountain,” based on the story by Annie Proulx) and was a bookseller in Archer City, Texas.

The literary critic and CUNY professor Morris Dickstein, whose books include Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties and Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, has died. “New York, intellectual and otherwise, will not be the same without him,” author Wendy Lesser told the New York Times.

The Guardian rounds up the wave of new books about Bob Dylan, who will turn eighty in May.