My favorite sentence from On the Road is the one where Sal is thinking to himself after learning everything in the particular stretch of Southern California, where his drug-fueled, cross country trip has currently placed him, gets done tomorrow.
“For the next week that was all I heard — manana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven,” is such a great line because it’s true and because it’s true for so many things. Maybe Jack Kerouac is commenting on Sal’s hippy-Buddhist-amphetamine-abled ability to live in the moment. Or maybe he’s channeling the mind of every single procrastinator on the planet, thinking things will most definitely get finished 24 hours from now. Or maybe he’s commenting on how his own salvation, his own peaceful place is always just a day away.
Or maybe it’s something else. Regardless, it’s a sweet line, one that encapsulates much of the novel’s ethos and could inspire someone to pick up a copy.
That’s the idea behind Single Sentence Animations. The series of 60-or-so-second videos from Electric Literature is a well-balanced mix of art and marketing meant to inspire short-fiction anthology sales by bringing one sentence to life.
Artists with stories in the Electric Literature archive are asked to select a favorite sentence from his or her work. Then an animator creates a short, typography-centric film in response. There’s a visualization of macabre, fratricide in Michael Cunningham’s Olympia, a Miyazaki-inspired interprtation of Stephen O’Connor’s Love, a Western-themed collage of Patrick deWitt’s The Bastard, and many others.
The Single Sentence Animations function as a savvy marketing tool for Electric Literature. The “quarterly anthology of five top-notch short stories, delivered in every viable medium,” thinks itself an innovative way to keep publishing alive. Instead of spending $5,000 to pay the printer, publications costs are spent on authors. Electric Literature pays five writers $1,000 each for one short story for every issue. It then distributes the issues via print and every type of electronic reading device imaginable. (The whole experience feels kind of like a McSweeney’s with a lower price point, more Digital Age appropriate, and without the attitude.)
If you like the animations, check out the stories themselves. You can download them for free on an iPhone or iPad. Do it today. There’s no need for you to wait for tomorrow.