paper trail

The absence of liberal response to Ferguson...

Jacqueline Woodson

At Al Jazeera America, Bookforum’s Chris Lehmann calls out progressives for failing to respond to the grand jury decision in Ferguson last week. “It speaks volumes about the anorexic state of liberal moral reasoning in today’s America that it has met the failure of a grand jury to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson for the Aug. 9 killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown with little more than a procedural shrug. All appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the system has worked, liberals intone.”

At the new site the Toast, Roxane Gay writes about the Ferguson grand jury decision and the “dignity” of Michael Brown’s parents, and ponders the difficulty of using words at a time of rage.

Laura Kipnis, author of the new book Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation, considers gender and threats to masculinity in the Ferguson case.

Mark Strand, who was named the US Poet Laureate in 1990 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1999, died at his home in Brooklyn on Saturday. He was eighty years old. British “queen of crime fiction” P. D. James also died last week at age ninety-four.

Jacqueline Woodson, who earlier this month won the National Book Award for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, reflects on the racism she has experienced as an African American, on NBA emcee Daniel Handler’s watermelon joke, and on changes in contemporary publishing. “Mr. Handler’s watermelon comment was made at a time of change. We Need Diverse Books, a grass-roots organization committed to diversifying all children’s literature, had only months before stormed the BookCon conference because of its all-white panels. The world of publishing has been getting shaken like a pecan tree and called to the floor because of its lack of diversity in the workplace. At this year’s National Book Awards, many of the books featured nonwhite protagonists, and three of the 20 finalists were people of color.”

On Saturday, President Obama visited Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, DC. Among the books he purchased were Denis Johnson’s The Laughing Monsters, Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster, and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.