To the argument that there are no literary Insiders with access to the organs of establishment money and media power-- that the Eggers Gang is no different from a writers group publishing a humble lit journal in Kansas-- one can point to a steady ability to draw awards and funds to themselves. (Often because their friends and associates chair the panels!)
I hope some enterprising ULAer is working on a Monday Report about the recent MacArthur "Genius" grant to Jonathan Lethem.
I can't say I know much about the guy. I've read one essay of his-- which was about the 1956 western movie "The Searchers." It was one of the stupidest, most self-involved essays I've ever read. Lethem made no coherent case for the movie's greatness. He showed no new insights about the film. His essay broke no new ground. ("The Searchers" has been overrated by the sniffle-sniff school of corny film criticism for decades.) The essay consisted of little more than Lethem's relating of everyplace he saw the movie, and his babyish personal reaction. In other words, as per usual for McSweeneyites, the focus was most intensely not on the movie, but himself.
A genius? Not hardly. But the guy must have connections of some kind, or friends who could build for him a Potemkin Village reputation, so I guess we can give him kudos for that.