In the latest installment of my series on Atlas Shrugged, I quote a right-leaning writer who describes his encounter with Atlas Shrugged and gets a lot of the big issues wrong. This is an increasingly common phenomenon—that writers on both sides, but especially on the right, are grappling with Ayn Rand’s novels and ideas; and that they often interpret what they read from the perspective of their own intellectual prejudices, rather than responding to what’s on the page. And part of the reason they do it is because there’s no one out there to call them on it.
I’ve been working on a long-term project to write a book of essays on Atlas Shrugged, a relatively short and readable guide that helps fans of the novel better understand its literary achievement and underlying message. Part of the goal of this series is to answer the big, common misinterpretations of her work that usually say more about the critics’ preconceptions than they do about Ayn Rand’s words. And that’s important, because a lot of people hear about Ayn Rand, and decide whether to grapple with her ideas, by reading what is said about her by the writers they like. It would be good if they didn’t get it wrong quite so often.
That’s why I don’t want this to be a long-term project. I’d like to complete it sooner, much sooner.
I need your help to do it.
You’ve seen the previous installments of this series. (Here, here, here, and here.) But so far I’m only about a third of the way through the topics I think it’s important to cover. I’d like to complete the other two-thirds while this moment of heightened interest in Ayn Rand’s ideas continues. So I have decided to “crowdfund” the project.
My target is to raise $25,000 to buy back more of my time from other projects and focus on completing my Reader’s Guide to Atlas Shrugged in the next few months. Please, if you think this project is valuable, go to www.TracinskiLetter.com/subscribe to contribute.
This is the kind of project that might normally be funded by a think tank or foundation, but my readers know that I have always been an independent voice. And fortunately, more and more authors are figuring out how to finance their work on their own. A finalist for this year’s Man Booker prize, the most prestigious British literary award, was crowdfunded with a similar amount of money on Kickstarter. And hey, if somebody can raise $55,000 to make potato salad, shouldn’t we be able to raise less than that to do something a lot more important?
Further installments will include essays on why Atlas Shrugged isn’t really a political novel, on the real-life parallels (including casting the villains of the novel from today’s headlines), on the literary complexity of the characters, on the role of ideas and speeches in the novel, on the cinematic sweep of Ayn Rand’s writing, and more. The final version will be a mid-sized volume of between ten and fifteen chapters, to be read as a complement to Ayn Rand’s novel.
I’m asking for your help in getting this project done. Contribute as much as you can afford. In exchange, as with other crowdfunding initiatives, I’ll be giving out a sliding scale of benefits to supporters. Contribute at least $25, and you get a mention in the acknowledgements. Contribute at least $50, and you’ll get access to an online draft of the completed book, including essays not published anywhere else, a vote on the final main title from options I’ll present to my contributors, and a signed copy of the final print edition. Contribute at least $250, and you’ll get all this plus a free year of The Tracinski Letter. Contribute $1000 or more, and you will get a special acknowledgement as a “sponsor” of the book—and heck, maybe I’ll even throw in some potato salad.
Contribute at any level, and you get the knowledge that there is a book—and a writer with a prominent platform—that will help people appreciate Ayn Rand’s achievement and correct the common errors and distortions of her ideas.
Again, go to www.TracinskiLetter.com/subscribe. Thanks in advance for your support.