The Power of Reading in the Face of Apocalypse
Looking back on a year that tested, and strengthened, our commitment to literature
If there has ever been a year to remind us why literature matters, 2017 has been it. In the face of a dizzying and often depressing news cycle, reading has remained a reliable companion — whether for solace, inspiration, information, motivation, or escape. No wonder, perhaps, that one of the last viral hits of the year was a short story published in The New Yorker, written by an emerging woman writer, Kristen Roupenian. Whatever you thought of “Cat Person” (I loved it), its reception makes clear that it’s not just the news that obsesses us; we crave ways to express anguish and frustration, to linger in moments of small triumph, and to hold contradictory ideas in one place. In other words, we crave literature.
2017 was also a year in which the president repeatedly attacked the free press, another vindictive billionaire brought down a beloved news outlet, and leaders of venerated literary institutions resigned amidst accusations of sexual misconduct. At a time when the book and media worlds seem to be crumbling around us, Electric Literature has worked hard to bring you intelligent literary criticism that is bold, personal, and unpretentious, and to publish fiction that is urgent and relevant. With no benefactor, corporation, or institution backing us, sometimes it seems magical that we’ve survived this long. But really, our independence is why we’ve survived. That doesn’t mean the past eight years have been easy; we regularly face budget deficits, uncertain funding, and sudden shifts in circumstance, and we do it all without a safety net.
So if you believe in what we do — if you believe that forward-thinking organizations like Electric Literature should exist to make literature relevant, exciting, and inclusive — then please make a donation today. We promise we’ll put it to good use.
Thank you for your support, and best wishes for a happy holiday!
Executive Director, Electric Literature