Occupy Wall Street: The Book

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Photo: OR Books

Progressive publishing house OR Books will release a 200-page first draft of a history entitled Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America as soon as December 17, using volunteers from the movement's Education and Empowerment Committee, and including work by both "sympathetic writers and people who are active in the occupation," OR co-founder Colin Robinson told New York. The book's release date will mark the protest's three-month anniversary — assuming it survives the onset of winter. By then, the demonstrations will have already have been the subject of an MTV special and plenty of news coverage, but Robinson hopes his "interventionist book" will provide the most extensive chronicling so far. "Although you can't deliver definitive opinions at the moment or set out a course of action, you can record the details of what has happened so far in Zuccotti Park," he said.

The publisher — whose anti-Sarah Palin essay collection Going Rouge wound up a New York Times bestseller — will release Occupying Wall Street as a print-on-demand product and independent e-book, with all profits going back to the occupation.

Attributed to the still-undefined group "Writers for the 99%," Occupying Wall Street will be compiled by a team of about 20 yet-unnamed interviewers in the next two weeks (and written in the subsequent two), but will be told in the form of a collaborative story, not as a series of interview transcripts or essays. Robinson sees the movement as "creating an alternative society in the middle of the financial center of the world," and wants to mirror that "openness and horizontal democracy" in the book's creation, but admits that's impossible to achieve completely. "I don't think you can write a book like that," he said, bristling at the possibility of calling the book an "authorized" account. "At a certain point people have to go away and write it," he said. "You can't approve every sentence. But we'll try to be as open about the process as we can." The idea for the book has not been presented at the movement's nightly general assembly meetings, but Robinson said there has been "a fair amount of support for the idea" among organizers.

While the book will touch on the most newsworthy moments, including the pepper-spray incidents, Brooklyn Bridge arrests, and city cleanup face-off, Robinson is also hoping to capture "quotidian detail," including "how the general assembly works, how the kitchen works, how security works," and so on.

For his part, Robinson believes he's uniquely suited as a protest historian in this case: "I occupied my high school in 1968 to be able to grow our hair and smoke," he said. "Driving by there now, it looks like it worked."