Friday, April 08, 2005

Rick Moody the Fake

Moody has a snarky and whiny essay in the current issue of lit-rag The Believer, which has emerged as chief mouthpiece for the literary upper class. Present throughout as an unmentioned subtext-- from the essay's first page-- is the world's premiere literary watchdog group, the Underground Literary Alliance. Posturing "intellectual" Moody is too gutless to name us. The essay is interesting nevertheless as a portrait of a floundering literary Overdog beset by internal doubts about what he does yet remaining clueless.

Rick Moody is upset that his actions have received criticism. He has it so tough! Attends all these swanky hoggish feed-at-the-trough parties out of the goodness of his heart; distributes taxpayer or tax-sheltered money to his Ivy League buds, and nobody appreciates it! It almost gives him heartburn in the middle of another overpriced Manhattan lunch. ("Another bottle of wine, Monsieur.")

Moody feigns not to have anything to do with his well-off friends Franzen and Antrim receiving NEA awards when he sat on the Fiction panel. "Awards? Not me! I was nowhere around. It must have been a Rick Moody imposter." The classic case of the kid with chocolate-covered face insisting he went nowhere near the cookie jar.

Wealthy aristocrat Moody sits on awards panel after awards panel, as he admits, but to him the process remains a mystery. The eternal innocent, indulged mansion-baby in silk diapers. He carelessly answers the phone. A rich foundation wants him to chair yet another grants panel! (Curious that ULAers never get such phone calls.) Money, money, everywhere. In the middle of it all sits Rick Moody playing with his rattle, an accidental bystander.

In the essay he forgets to mention the egregious grants he's received. No explanation of why he never gave the funds back. Could he be more greedy than he pretends? Is this possible? Dare we think so? (Let's pause to applaud him for starting the New York Public Library's Young Lions soirees, a wealthy club which awards yet more monies-- public?-- to literary Insiders. Prince Moody in his stone-walled palace counts this as an accomplishment.)

In the hilarious body of the piece Moody attacks the New York Times and Laura Miller at Salon. They've suddenly lost all credibility. Does this extend to the many features, articles, interviews they've done over the years on him? If Laura Miller doesn't know what she's talking about, maybe she was wrong as well about Franzen, Eggers, and others she's lauded.

At one point, to justify the horrendous fiction choices of the recent National Book Awards (which are unengaging to readers now and will be moreso in the future), Moody actually brings up the "vertically integrated monopolistic entertainment" industry, and says those who criticize him "can't think outside the box." Hmm. I wonder where he got these notions. From this blog?

He's like a corporate board member up in the executive suite who at lunchtime ducks out the back door of the skyscraper, throws off his tie and joins demonstrators out front. "Power to the people!" he shouts, raising his fist. Then he ducks back in, riding the express elevator to the top floor in time for the next corporate vote.

This privileged character's entire CAREER has been built on the vertical integration of literature-- from the conglomerates publishing his books and the glossy Conde Nast conglomerate mags publicizing him while publishing his stories and articles. He's a product of America's vertically organized educational system. He graduated from Columbia and Brown, after all-- not a school in Cleveland or North Dakota! He has known throughout his writing life exactly how to ride the elevator to the top floor-- because he started there.

When he describes this vertically integrated society, he could include the economic and financial system-- cataloging the globally powerful banks his ultra-rich father has worked for. Dad has chaired his own share of foundations (maybe owns a couple). He is, in fact, one of the several hundred-or-so individuals who run this planet.

But Rick, maybe we've misjudged you. Despite appearances, while your "not for everyone" literary taste presupposes a hierarchical literature, maybe you're a dissident after all. If so, let us know!

Writers in this corrupt land who think for real outside the box and live their thoughts are those in the Underground Literary Alliance.


Anonymous said...
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Adam Hardin said...

Here is my challenge to writers:

Write so that a person reading it knows that you are a twenty-first century author.

MFA writers are stuck in 20th century Post-modernism or imitation 20th century modernism.

The Underground is going to have to bring the weight and relevance and originality back to American Literature.

Marissa Ranello said...


Hence, I have no reason to encourage Anonymous. His/Her?? appetite for attention is quite boring.

Hopefully he/she will starve soon.

Underground Literary Adventures has been updated.

King said...

Well, I'll lay off the person-- but the poster is making our case for us, showing that our anonymous opponents, partisans of the literary status quo, are sick in the head. They tried and failed to beat us in debate (even while remaining anonymous). Bam Bam and Company got their heads handed to them. Now they're reduced to racist sniping. Quite revealing in what it reveals about the decay of their minds.

King said...

Re Moody: It would be worth looking into whether he knows National Book Award winner Lily Tuck or not. His Believer essay gives the impression that he never heard of her before. Is this likely? Rick Moody was good friends with George Plimpton, and has stated that they spoke about the Paris Review many times. One of Tuck's more notable stories was published in Paris Review. Upper-class, born in France, she's the very kind of literary person Plimpton would cultivate-- and it's quite likely that she and Moody move in the same NYC literary circles, PEN events, cocktails parties, and such. If this is so, it would paint Mr. Moody as disingenuous at best; at worst, as lying.
His essay is truly comical. At one point in it he tries to claim he's not really an MFA writer, because other students found his stories boring. "Well, I'm a priest in the religion, just not a very GOOD one."

King said...

p.s. I only have time for some fast checking-- but it doesn't look good for Rick Moody. Apparently both Moody and Tuck are heavily involved with PEN, and have been for years. (Lily Tuck received a PEN award in 2000.) According to, both were involved in PEN readings the week of Feb 18 this year, though presumably not the same one. See if you can find this link. It shows very well that both Moody and Tuck move in the same chi-chi circles. (At the bottom of the page for that date is an ad for Hamptons domestic help! It's hilarious. And get a load of some of the photos from other swanky events. This is the world these people live in. They shuffle grant back and forth among themselves and otherwise live the high life. Occasionaly write something to justify their butterfly existence.
Meanwhile, most ULAers live very marginalized existences, trying to survive where wages for our kind never rise.)
Two worlds.
Two kinds of writers.

Anonymous said...
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Noah Cicero said...


I just looked at that site. THE HORROR THE HORROR!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, King! I'm not posting that horseshit! I'm a fun guy--not a complete asshole. Down with the anonymous stormfront poster: one thing I can actually agree with the ULA on. But only one.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dude, really.

Twarn't funny the first twenty times. Why this misguided attempt to frame the ULA as racists when it's easier, and more fun, to argue about the things they actually say?

Still united against this pindick with the ULA,

Anonymous said...
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Marissa Ranello said...

See Roger M. Rosen & Charles B. Rosenberg, Suing Anonymous Defendants for Internet Defamation........

Adam Hardin said...

Columbia University Professor Ben Marcus is one of four candidates for the Iowa University MFA Directorship vacated by Frank Conroy who recently passed away.

Consider the Iowa and Columbia Axis?
Consider how that links up nearly everyone from McSweeneys to Open City to Fence to the New Yorker to the Paris Review.

Someone how I like it. One enemy is easier to attack than three or four.

Dave Eggers had his chance to break away from the establishment, change it, and now clearly he is becoming as much apart of it as anything, and he is as much the center of it as anyone.

Noah Cicero said...

King, those are going to show up google, all that shit that asshole is writing next like Renello and Bernice's names and The UlA. That's why he's going doing it.

Anonymous said...
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King said...

Note how our anonymous poster became more frantic with this blog post-- and particularly when I started looking into the Lily Tuck- Rick Moody connection. Ask yourself you has reason to become so upset.
From the beginning of the ULA we've insisted on being upfront about our identities. Can we see now why this is necessary? To do otherwise is to have no credibility-- to be like our anonymous enemies.
I'm prepared to be held accountable for everything I say. It's the ONLY way to oerate if you stand for truth and integrity.
Truth and integrity-- those are the founding building blocks of the ULA.
Bam Bam-- why are you anonymous? Why do you hide? Can you see how this discredits anything you say?
Re Moody. He's a pathetic character, really. Undertalented and overhyped, and not very bright. The truth is just beginning to dawn on him. Stray glimmers of light creeping into the moldiness of his mind. How much trouble he must've went to over his Believer essay! How much work he must've put into it-- his justification to the world. It took five minutes of reading it to see the gaping holes in its thinking.
Finally, I'm assuming the anonymous crank is one of our establishment enemies. I don't really care about those folks-- they're on their way out. However, if I discover it's not one of their number-- that it's a fellow undergrounder like "Evil Journalista"-- then that person better be sure that I'll travel to where he/she is at and kick his/her ass all over the place. That's guaranteed. You can take it to Moody's father's bank.

King said...

Here's that link, I think--

King said...

p.s. You have to scroll down past all the Muffies and Mallorys to get to it.
Check out the ad at the bottom!
(But why no ad for nannies? Moody needs his nanny right now. Goo goo ga ga goo.)

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