Photo: Kevin Lincoln
Jonathan Lethem, writer of the novels “Fortress of Solitude” and “Chronic City,” among others, showed up at Occupy Wall Street today to read a prepared speech.Accompanying him was novelist Jennifer Egan, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for “A Visit From the Goon Squad.”
Invited by the protesters, Lethem spoke amid the Peoples’ Library, which provides free books and music to those who want them. Lethem has given a large number of books to the library.
In his speech, which was broadcast to the crowd using the “People’s Mic” — in which the crowd repeats the words of the speaker — Lethem called Occupy Wall Street “the greatest service call ever made,” and he exhorted the protesters in their dealings with authority to “summon these words: ‘I’d like to speak to your supervisor.'”
Lethem’s remarks were typed out with line breaks, more like a poem than traditional prose, and he gave the paper copy of the speech to an audience member afterwards.
“My thoughts turn toward the middlemen … who stultify your dream of another world,” he said, praising the Occupy protesters’ resistance against the “corporate regime that now passes for our republic and goes by its great name, the United States of America.”
Also speaking was playwright Lynn Nottage, who said she was at Occupy Wall Street “in solidarity with all of you who are invested in shifting this country’s conversation.”
Following the speeches, Lethem, Egan and Nottage mingled with the audience.
Asked what he thought the protests could achieve, Lethem told Business Insider, “I have high hopes that I would barely dare articulate. That is to be answered by the collective reality of what unfolds. I wouldn’t presume.”
Though Egan didn’t speak to the assembled listeners, she told Business Insider that she saw herself as an observer at the protests.
“Honestly, I feel behind on how the movement has evolved,” she said. “I just wanted to support Jonathan. We worked together to oppose the Atlantic Yards Project and I applaud his passion and willingness to put himself out there.”
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