paper trail

Gabrielle Bellot points out what the Harper’s letter gets wrong; New York Times Magazine’s take on The Decameron

Yiyun Li. Photo: © Phillippe Matsas

Discourse about The Letter published by Harper’s Magazine has been fast and furious. Gabrielle Bellot provides some much-needed context and perspective.

The New York Times Magazine has a special fiction issue inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s fourteenth-century classic, The Decameron. In her introduction, Rivka Galchen notes the parallels between Boccaccio’s plague-ruined era and our own: “Boccaccio writes that during the Black Death the people of Florence stopped mourning or weeping over the dead. After some days away, the young storytellers of his tale are finally able to cry, nominally over imaginary tales of tragic love, but more likely from their own hearts.” The Times’s take on Boccaccio’s collection includes stories by Victor LaValle, Rachel Kushner, Yiyun Li, John Wray, Edwidge Danticat, Margaret Atwood, and more.

The Root reports that “The 1619 Project” will be developed as a series of film and television programs by Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey.

At The New Republic, Alex Shephard writes about Persuasion, a new newsletter and think tank founded by Yascha Mounk. Mounk has billed the project as a home for “free speech and free inquiry,” founded because traditional platforms have failed to live up to those ideals. Shepard sees Persuasion as less about free speech and more about established figures feeling threatened by the tone of online discourse: “The problem with Persuasion is that it all comes back to cancel culture, not only elevating an issue that affects the elite more than everyone else but obscuring more serious assaults on liberalism and free speech.”

Andrea Long Chu reviews Curtis Sittenfeld’s fictionalized version of Hillary Clinton’s life, Rodham, in which the former senator and secretary of state breaks up with Bill Clinton and goes on to accomplish great things.

At Jacobin, Meagan Day looks at US labor history, interracial solidarity, and “the question of what impact unions have on racism” today. “We need to create situations that by their very nature lead people to arrive on their own at a recognition of common interests across racial lines. Big, vibrant, democratic unions are indispensable to that undertaking.”