paper trail

Remembering Larry Kramer; Chan Koonchung on China’s collective amnesia

Larry Kramer. Photo: David Shankbone

Author, activist, and playwright Larry Kramer died yesterday at the age of eighty-four. A founder of ACT UP, Kramer was called “one of America’s most valuable troublemakers” by Susan Sontag. Anthony Fauci, who became friendly with Kramer after the author called him “a killer and ‘an incompetent idiot’” in a 1988 open letter, remembered Kramer contributions to the fight against the HIV epidemic. “Once you got past the rhetoric,” he said, “you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold.”

For the New York Times, Li Yuan talks to Zero Point, Beijing author Chan Koonchung about censorship, Xi Jinping, and China’s collective amnesia. In Chan’s 2009 novel The Fat Years, Yuan explains, “a disaster brings suffering and death. Collective amnesia sets in. The Communist Party emerges stronger than ever.” Now, the author says that he’s amazed at how quickly citizens have moved on from their government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. “It’s like nothing had happened,” he said. “I’m dumbfounded. How could they make a U-turn so fast?”

BuzzFeed technology reporter Alex Kantrowitz is leaving the website to report independently. Kantrowitz will write for outlets including BuzzFeed News, is launching a podcast, and plans to continue his newsletter on Substack.

The Invention of the Restaurant author Rebecca Spang explains why, unlike now, restaurants stayed open during the 1918 influenza epidemic.

At Literary Hub, C. W. Gortner offers a reading list of rule-breaking women.

For Columbia Journalism Review, Hamilton Nolan praises the Washington Post’s editorial union for their ability to continue organizing despite challenges beyond those faced by most newsrooms. “It faces, on one side, the virtually limitless power of a zillionaire owner who does not like unions and also owns some of the most powerful and newsworthy companies in America—and, on the other, a US president who hates and denounces the newspaper itself, and who also hates and denounces the owner of the newspaper, for separate reasons,” he writes.