Reed Magazine February 2003
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PROGRAMMER, poet, and publisher James Sherry ’68 takes a risk on Snowball’s Chance, a new parody of Animal Farm with its sights set on American foreign policy

by kim fisher ’94

James Sherry ’69 has never balked at controversy.

Publisher, poet, and critic, Sherry is the founder of the Segue Foundation, an umbrella arts organization based in lower Manhattan. In addition to producing weekly poetry readings, supporting the arts in prisons, and sponsoring literary and visual arts journals, Segue also publishes Roof Books, which until now produced books of poetry and literary criticism.

Today, the “Fiction” section of the Roof Books website lists exactly one title for sale — Snowball’s Chance, a book that seemed to have about that big a chance of getting published until Sherry stepped in.

When Snowball’s Chance author John Reed approached Sherry about publishing his manuscript, Sherry was intrigued. Snowball’s Chance is both a parodic sequel to Orwell’s Animal Farm and a fierce, wide-ranging, and prophetic critique of contemporary America and American foreign policy, neither of which makes it a likely candidate for mainstream publication. Sherry recalls being struck by how effectively Reed had managed to parody so many American conceits, as well as Orwell himself. “I haven’t read a lot of good social critique lately,” Sherry says. “John made the whole metaphor of Animal Farm work as well against the self-interest of the ruling class in Western countries.”

In Orwell’s original, Snowball, the porcine Trotsky of Animal Farm, energetically set about realizing the ideals of the new mammalian utopia until his exile by Napoleon-cum-Stalin. In Reed’s parody, Snowball returns with a new revolutionary fervor—corporate capitalism—and transforms Animal Farm into Animal Fair, one big moneymaking carnival. Under his leadership, Animal Farm’s dictum, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” mutates into “All animals are born equal—what they become is their own affair.” The animals become rich, fat, and litigious, and divisions widen between classes and species.

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Reed Magazine February