Thursday, August 11, 2005

Status Quo Equals Failure

Status quo literature is collapsing in front of our eyes.

What other conclusion can be drawn from the Rachel Donadio article in the August 7 New York Times Book Review? Donadio bemoans the dwindling position of literary fiction in the culture, documenting how mainstream magazines publish less and less of it-- increasingly not publishing it at all. She looks for causes everywhere but in the most obvious place: literary fiction itself! How totally wedded are you lit people to a rigid failed form, anyway? How far is workshop brainwashing embedded into your artistically-blocked brains?

I've used radical language and measures, because radical measures are needed to wake people up to what's happening to the state of literature. I do this because lit folks are stupid beyond belief. And yes, the precious preppy Ivy League interns at the snob journal The New Yorker maybe should be rhetorically attacked for their complicity in the dying of an art-- for doing nothing about it, not even speaking up.

Recall that I came to these matters as a non-literary outsider-- a fully grown adult who'd been around who, fourteen years ago, encountered literary journals and noticed how completely unredeemably stiff static staid stale were the short stories contained within-- while I'd cut my teeth as a reader on the roaring flash and blood tales of Jack London and the street smart humorous wisdom of the collections of stories by O. Henry. The literary art in the hands of those two men LIVED, while the combined output of hundreds of literati over the past forty years is fit for the most part only to be buried, dead.

I continue with the ULA because I realize it'd be insane to drop out now, at a critical cultural turning point when status quo literature-- as noted by its own commentators, Lynn Freed and Donadio among them-- is an obvious FAILURE; and the energetic replacement-- the unwashed writing of the underground-- is at hand.

In no other field than literature are the caretakers so willfully blind to the evidence around them. Even General Motors at least KNOWS it's losing market share and the interest of the populace. Even the National Hockey League, among sports, KNOWS it needs to drastically change its product.

The sport of literature is in a state of failure, because its system for producing and promoting writers is seriously flawed. A rival league to the established one has appeared. It's called the Underground Literary Alliance. It can be found at THIS fan site with its collection of exciting new stars is the foundation for saving the literary art; it's one place which acknowledges there's a problem, creating its version of a solution.

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