N+1 and Verso Books worked together to publish Occupy! Scenes from Occupied America in what has to be record time; I saw this book in stores at the very beginning of December. It's a series of reports written by people who have taken part in Occupy protests around the country (but mostly in New York City). Like many of these sorts of quickie publications, the content is a bit ragged—several of the essays repeat themselves a bit too much, and a little bit more of a structure would have improved the work as something to read from cover to cover. Unlike most quickie publications, the book is gorgeous, a testament to beautiful book design. Liberal usage of red ink to write out the titles of each piece, to highlight the artwork that appears throughout the book, and lining the margins of each page is a smart choice. This doesn't look like a book that was laid out in what must have been a month.
And the essays are thoughtful pieces of first-person reportage. Mostly the pieces consist of the author arriving at Occupy sites, what they saw, and how they took part in the protests. Several authors touch on race issues, and the smug whiteness of early Occupations around the country. Other authors wrestle with the way homeless people have been welcomed and refused by different Occupy movements around the U.S. One writer takes able-bodied members of Occupy Oakland to task for starting tense confrontations with the police and then running away, leaving disabled Occupiers behind to suffer the consequences. These are thoughtful pieces—n+1 is nothing if not a thoughtful magazine—that side with the movement, even as the authors struggle to come to terms with what it all means.
I especially enjoyed the reproduction of Slavoj Zizek's October 9th remarks at Occupy, which feel more hopeful than most of his work. But it was still unmistakably Zizek: The essay begins "We are all losers, but the true losers are down there on Wall Street." One paragraph opens like this:
In mid-April 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV, and in films and novels, all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel. This is a good sign for China. These people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dreaming.
This book is a clear-eyed and sober examination of the dream world that we created this fall, along with a few brief, tentative explorations of what it will become in the future. It's also an excellent proof-of-concept for speedily published book-length journalism that does work blogs and newspapers simply can't do. This is not some dashed-off smear of a money-making scheme; I recommend it heartily.