The first question is whether there IS something wrong with publishing-- or if the present System is working.
The ULA says it's not. For fifty years the System hasn't produced a great writer, despite massive investment in the literary art. Our argument is that the Establishment Machine is flawed from top to bottom; from MFA feeder programs to which authors receive large publicity backing.
The results speak for themselves. Literature has become less important and necessary to the average American's life. The ULA is offering not just a comprehensive criticism of the present System-- but a solution. We're putting the pieces into place for an alternative, more credible and representative machine.
In so doing we've reached out to writers who've been overlooked by mainstream literature, to American literature's loss.
During the ULA's debate with George Plimpton and his PARIS REVIEW staff at CBGB's in 2001, I pointed to a large poster of Wild Bill Blackolive. While Plimpton had been promoting marginally interesting trendoids like Jay McInerney and Tama Janowitz, Bill had been ignored. Yet with the right encouragement and push he could've been another Hemingway. His persona, even today, is unique. His prose is dynamic and multi-faceted. His uneven "Tales from the Texas Gang" novel contains passages of action unsurpassed even by Hemingway. Yet he can also write in the stripped-down style of "Madame Z and Billy," a short novel about an intense relationship between an artist and her model, an excerpt of which is up on the ULA's www.literaryrevolution.com fan site.
Wild Bill, like Lisa B. Falour, with whom he's now collaborating (and whose photo graces the cover of LIT FAN MAG #2) could've been a literary superhero-- the kind of figure American lit has badly needed to compete with the Michael Jordans and Madonnas of its cultural competitors.
Compete in this culture? Most literati don't even try. They look for financial umbillical cords which allow them to settle into cozily comfortable and quiet niches where they're unlikely to upset anyone.
Because those who run the Machine, the conglomerate book publishers and glossy magazines, come from the upper and upper-middle class, they look for writers who appeal to their Ivy League selves, within their walled island of Manhattan. Who do they fund and hype? Smirky but basically clueless ladder climbers like Ana Marie Cox, a conformist System player (U of Chicago American Prospect Chronicle of Higher Education et.al.) who has just received a six-figure advance-- and is unlikely to advance American lit's reach beyond its present hip smug trendy unrepresentative audience.