Paper Trail

Tobi Haslett remembers last year’s riots; Michelle Orange’s reading recommendations for “pre-post-pandemic” brain

Toni Morrison. Photo: Timothy Greenfield Sanders. Knopf/Doubleday

At n+1, Tobi Haslett has a powerful essay reflecting on and remembering the uprising in response to the murder of George Floyd, an uprising that is already being played down and repurposed in the media and in national politics. “At the DNC last fall we saw how the uprising may be remembered: a sunny, noble blur of soaring rhetoric and ‘peaceful’ crowds—a fabulous alternative to the rawness on the ground. But certain facts remain; some things can’t be wished away. Too much was born and broken amid the smoke and screams. The least we can do is remember—to try, after the riots, after the speeches, after the backlash and elections, and after this latest (live-streamed) liturgy of American ‘criminal justice,’ to recall what really happened, extracting and reconstructing the whole flabbergasting sequence.”

Michelle Orange, author of the forthcoming Pure Flame, writes in the New York Times that moving out of pandemic isolation “will require the kind of sustained attention . . . for which reading makes excellent practice,” and explains how Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison have helped her navigate this “strange, bardo-like moment in which disaster and its aftermath begin to overlap.”

First-quarter reports show that big trade publishers are continuing to see an increase in sales, Publishers Weekly reports. HarperCollins “saw profits jump 45% in the first quarter, with a 19% increase in revenue, compared to the first three months of 2020. Sales rose to $490 million, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, depreciation, and amortization) hit $80 million.”

“The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Washington Post journalists’ phone records and tried to obtain their email records over reporting they did in the early months of the Trump administration on Russia’s role in the 2016 election,” reports Devlin Barrett at the Washington Post.

Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America, talks with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast: “Toni Morrison is so important to me. Mrs. Morrison is an Ohioan, and absolutely for me, the greatest Ohioan we’ve ever had, certainly the greatest writer, but I also think just the greatest Ohioan we ever had. In some ways, she’s very much a guiding light for me in my work and when I decided to pivot the idea of the book, I couldn’t help but think about Toni Morrison and the very real thing that she often talked about, which was de-prioritizing whiteness to the point where you remove it from your imagination and then seeing what’s left.”