paper trail

Clint Smith on slave narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project; Remembering Maxine Cheshire

Clint Smith

In The Atlantic, Clint Smith has an in-depth essay on the descendants of people who were interviewed for the Federal Writers’ Project slave narratives, which documented the stories of more than two thousand former slaves in the late 1930s. Smith writes, “The descendants of those who were interviewed for the Federal Writers’ Project have been given something that has been denied to so many Black Americans: the opportunity to read the words, and possibly see the faces, of people they thought had been lost to history.”

At The Nation, Micah Uetricht looks at the long arc of social critic and historian Mike Davis’s writing. Over the course of his career, Uetricht writes, “nearly all of the principal conventions of Davis’s many books have unfortunately proved correct”—from the decline of the labor movement in the US to the climate crisis and the susceptibility of the global capitalist economy to coronaviruses. But his two latest books are more hopeful than their predecessors: “Davis, for all his apocalyptic prophesying over the past four decades, has never lost faith in such seeds’ sprouting. In both Old Gods and Set the Night on Fire, we find him still sober, but putting that faith front and center.”

In the New York Times, Penelope Green remembers reporter Maxine Cheshire, who died in December at the age of ninety. Green writes, “Her training, along with the baked-in moxie, luck and doggedness of Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, made Ms. Cheshire’s reporting required reading across the Beltway and beyond.” Complained about by everyone from John F. Kennedy Jr. to Henry Kissinger to Frank Sinatra, Cheshire once told Time magazine, “Some women are interested in needlepoint. I’m interested in organized crime.”

The Whiting Foundation is accepting applications for its creative nonfiction grant. The deadline is April 26.

The Paris Review is hiring: the magazine is looking for a managing editor.