Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Prophets in Own Land

The attention in The Guardian was great because it validated what we already know: the Underground Literary Alliance is the coming literary movement. Right now we're stepping on too many toes for U.S. literati to acknowledge us-- but no one can stand forever against the flow of history, which we represent.

Who'll replace the pretentious insularity of the Eggers-led Church of the Undead? The ULA or n+1?

The n+1'ers are themselves too much of the status quo to represent much of a difference. The ULA is far broader based. This will be seen at Sunday's Philadelphia show. The creme de la creme of the underground are gathering for the event, from all over the country. Just added to the card: mail art maestro "Experimental Writer" Mark Sonnenfeld.

29 comments:

jimmy grace said...

What I saw at the Handler reading was that the lameass hipsters weren't into the indy stuff, and the underground weren't into Handler. (Most people seemed to agree with the hate mail!) You're not going to lure their audience - the question is, can you get one of your own? I mean, besides pigeons? I'll be curious to hear about your turnout...

King said...

I'm not too proud not to read for pigeons, homeless people, or who'll ever listen. Some of the most influential movements around started with tiny audiences. (Punk for instance.) We expect a good turnout for this event-- the main thing is that we are going to put on a show more exciting than anything else to be found in today's literary world. We're way better than the hipster crowd-- who I've seen enough of. We give people the genuine article: authentic underground. Voices and energy which can't be matched.
Here we are-- pure excitement. For those who miss the show it's their loss.
p.s. I don't send out hate mail-- only well-reasoned arguments, albeit with some hype to them.

King said...

(Excuse the bad grammar of that first sentence. It should be, "I'm not too proud to read for. . . .")

jimmy grace said...

Punk for pigeons, that's gotta be better than hipsters. Or hippies, who are a bigger problem on my coast.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

The thing about comparisons between music is literature is that there is a fatal flaw. People do not go their whole lives without listening to music. Actually, I don't think anyone in America, of cognitive means, doesn't listen to music. Perhaps people that can't afford stereos and hardware to play music. Music has a potential unlimited audience, literature does not, painting does not, sculpture does not, even cinema, to a certain extent does not.

I haven't been to the movies since 1998. I watch movies on occasion, and a few TV shows, but my tastes are pretty much set and rules out a lot. However, as with most people, I'm always on the search for good indy bands, in whatever genre, I listen to everything except niche jazz. Bluegrass of course being my favorite genre, something I only got into 7 years ago.

Most Americans do not read fiction and fiction is irrelevant to the lives of most people. There is nothing wrong with this. Most people just don't favor imaginary worlds through words on a page.

While music moves the spirit, literature is just boring to most.

Jimmy has a point, one I've made many times: those who buy literature know what they like, and whilst the n+1/Eggers/whomever readers are small, they will not be won over to yourside and whoever your intended audience is perhaps even smaller. The fact is commercial fiction, especially romance and mysteries, will always outsell, outdo, and be more preferred amongst all races, classes, genders, etc., than all forms of literary fiction combined.

King said...

More crap from "Joyce." (I'm still waiting for you to respond to various points.)
People go their entire lives without reading?
Exactly what are you advocating?
You also say literature doesn't reach the spirit. This is nonsense.
Well, maybe what's been presented as "Literature" today doesn't-- but nothing-- NOTHING-- reaches deeper into the soul than great literature; whether the best poetry or the great novels.
Great literature, more than even the greatest music, leaves one a changed person. I still recall reading Dumas Vicomte de Braggelone about ten years ago-- how it took my mind and emotions on a rollercoaster. The questions of life, and one's place in the world, are addressed in that huge work. Literature at its best remains the greatest artistic experience-- not other art reaches deeper inside a person.
It's sad that I have to make this argument to a writer. This character proves the ULA's point: that status quo writers themselves have no belief in their own art form. Which is why they should be replaced.
(All we wish to do with n+1 and Church of the Undead is displace them, their aesthetic, and their ideas. We use them as necessary contrast to ourselves: authentic literature of this culture.)

King said...

(Note the constant exclusivity of "Joyce"'s argument: That literature is reserved for a small, exclusive elite-- or, "to me! to me." He dismisses the potential of the other people in this society. He sees them as fundamentally different from himself, "The Enlightened One."
Totalitarian; fascist-- call this attitude what you will, but when one thinks about it, it's monstrous.
Recall that Frederick Douglass believed there was nothing more important for a person's rights than to be able to read. Enjoying literature is fully part of this. That it's been taken away from part of society (or, the attempt made) is no argument.
The ULA wishes to bring literature back to the people-- to everyone. It's always been the most important art form.
Literature has stirred the soul of people at least since the time of Homer. A culture without literature-- literature fully part of the culture-- is no culture at all, but merely a dead thing, amusement for robots. Which I guess is the direction this culture is headed unless we turn it around.)

jimmy grace said...

If literature reaches everyone, then why is the bestseller list full of crap? Why is there always plenty of Zola at the library and a waiting list for Danielle Steel? And what's fascist about pointing this out? Yeah, more people should read more things. But nobody's stopping them.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

People go their entire lives without reading?

Without reading FICTION. Fiction readers are a minority. Still, the market is over-saturated. One doesn't have to be a publishing maven to understand that. It's basic knowledge any writer should know.

You also say literature doesn't reach the spirit. This is nonsense.

It does not. It had a chance to once, but this is something quite rare nowadays and when it happens it is done via commercial books such as Mitch Albom's crap or the Da Vinci Code (which was really borderline conspiracy-tract).

Well, maybe what's been presented as "Literature" today doesn't-- but nothing-- NOTHING-- reaches deeper into the soul than great literature; whether the best poetry or the great novels.

This is pretty much an argument that holds no weight. Religion is what strikes people in the soul, fiction is mostly a past time/a hobby/ or an intellectual exercise.

Great literature, more than even the greatest music, leaves one a changed person. I still recall reading Dumas Vicomte de Braggelone about ten years ago-- how it took my mind and emotions on a rollercoaster

Once again, this is not society but one person. Literature is personal and is only favored by a minority in any population. Ironically, for all the times you toss out the word elitist, fiction is seen as elitist in and of itself, especially since you keep holding up ULA as literature as something great and will move people. And the ULA are the "only ones" doing such and such, and you actively exclude most writers. No different that the strawmen you deliver against other obscure, and culturally irrelevant literary figures.

There are still Art exhibits going on. People still attend the Opera. I, like many people, like both. But I am not moved to tears by Van Gogh, I do not care to learn how to interpret visual art. I do not gush over arias. I, like most people, like what I like. Most people, obviously, favor the film/tv medium and music. This is not the 19th century, or even 50 years ago (if you notice a lot of your appeals are appeals to past epochs which actually constitutes the very definition of reactionary).

I see no problem with facing reality about the fact that fiction is not the #1 medium and never will be. I am not a narcissist and do not project my own passions as indicative of reality. I prefer sociological studies and statistics, which are grounded in reality.

jimmy grace said...

Of course fiction moves the soul. Art's emotional power might be difficult to tally up but that doesn't mean it's not happening, and to say it's only a hobby is obscene. But it's equally obscene to say that a kind of art you don't like is preventing your own art from achieving power. If you get your art out there you can reach people. We'll see if the ULA can get a crowd that matches that of some bigwig in a bookstore.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

Art's emotional power might be difficult to tally up but that doesn't mean it's not happening, and to say it's only a hobby is obscene.

I should qualify my statement. I am not saying "some" fiction does not move "some people" I'm simply saying on a macrocosmic scale it does not. Literature is not like music (which often depend on concerts) or cinema (watching movies is a popular social event) even visual art is mostly shown off in gallaries and has an interpersonal edge. Fiction, perhaps next to poetry, is the most solitary of all art forms, and hence the most subjective. I am moved by James Joyce, I never went to college, but I know a number (4) english lit majors who also where. James Joyce is still not readby most college students and does not have mass appeal. There is nothing social about fiction. Even when discussing books there are few options:

1. Engage in that academic high-theory nonsense
2. Simply pat the author on the back and have a wankfest with others who liked the book. (Book Club)
3. Basically get into a wankfast about why such and such a book/author is overrated, as if this will somehow convert someone.

I'm highly suspicious of writer's who want to have appeal like movie stars instead of letting the work do the talking. In my opinion, moving 4 or 5 people sure beats the heck out of "revolution" and attempting to treat individual readers as if they are nothing but cogs, or means, to some sort of romantic goal. That isn't art so much as it is commerce pretending to be art. I find such people are typically completely unwilling to admit that society doesn't choose to allot its precious free-time to fiction. Fiction, reading it, is a hobby/entertainment, much like hot-rods and film.

And of course there is that whole issue of melodrama, and commercial fiction moving people. No doubt Mitch Albom and the bestseller list is filled with moving literature, hence it is commercial. And who are the people being moved? Chances are it isn't millions of day laborers and heroin junkies, but middle-class people are those with time to read.

No doubt a day laborer or heroin junkie may be concerned about the world, but they won't need to turn to fiction to see it how it is. According to technorati, there are 50 million blogs: hence making fiction even more irrelevant to detailing actual social phenomena (also it is clear as to why memoir sells so well).

jimmy grace said...

I agree with your stats but not your conclusion, Joyce. The influence of art defies stats. One person can see the right work of art and change their life - or the world. That's a nonwanky option. It might sound corny but I truly fucking believe this. In twenty years Mitch Albom's books will be piled up in Salvation Army bins, but the right novel on the right shelf will be influencing someone, the way (to use a music metaphor) Britney Spears will be gone but Coltrane will still be blowing minds. To me, that's where revolution happens - in the art. If you draw a crowd you increase your chances of making that influence. That's why I try to hit the niche - YES - that might respond to the work I do.
I agree that artists who just want to be stars are bullshit. Interesting that the King notices every mention of him on a blog - and trashes those who don't have enough of a web presence for his taste.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

The influence of art defies stats. One person can see the right work of art and change their life - or the world

. In twenty years Mitch Albom's books will be piled up in Salvation Army bins, but the right novel on the right shelf will be influencing someone, the way (to use a music metaphor)

The question is: how is that art made available? This is where performance art, visual arts and literature differ in many ways. If we confine ourselves to literature we can be liberal, and use the rarest examples ever and see that it doesn't change publishing or anything in general when (fiction) books move someone. We can take Dickens, a writer who, like Albom, wrote for money and wrote borderline melodrama. Why was Dickens read? Because he looked at it as a commercial venture and was paid per word. Really, Albom is closer to a modern Dickens than many others, but of course it is important to remember Dickens wasn't dealing with 1/100th of the things modern society has to deal with.

The books that "move people" are books that move individuals, and this is something that does not "start revolutions." There is always, and will always be, a market for moving fiction. In fact, it is hard to get a novel published that has a nihilistic, hopeless, unmoving storyline, unless of course you are writing for the small niche that reads pessimistic literary fiction (I believe an estimate was that literary fiction readers consisted of less than 500,000 people so logic dictates the market for the depressing stuff is going to be even smaller).

This story is centuries old.

1.Someone calls themselves an artist
2. They denounce whatever is currently popular/successful/wanted by the public as crap.
3. They set out to be accepted by that same public that likes crap, which is ironic.
4. They want a revolution of boring relevance that the public has no interest in or they want to nonsense under the label of high art (DaDa, whatever the hell Gertrude Stein was writing, etc)
5. They announce some grand conspiracy against them.
etc, etc.

"I want to set out to write (insert) that moves people/the race/the class/the gender" and it almost always fails or is treated as it should be: Melodrama. Art should not have an agenda. There is a word for such things: Propaganda

I don't know if you are familiar with Virginia Woolf, but she moved generations of women, as did Sylvia Plath. They, at least Woolf did heavily, disdain the masses and did not write for them (Woolf's husband started a press). Woolf regularly complained about the constraints of plot and denounced James Joyce as indecent (mainly due to snobbery). Neither of the three mentioned in this paragraph wanted to move people, it was about them in and of themselves. A commonality being no exogenous propaganda. Writers that do that get exposed quick, and as always there are limited examples of success (one could always point to Lolita as showing that fantasies featuring young girls is viable and the public has a thirst for it. Most people would disagree. I am one of these people)

One can be moved by the latest bodice ripper. In fact, romance is the most popular genre and most profitable because it is the most moving.

This has nothing to do with a conspiracy and everything to do with public tastes. I do not see the public as a means, to have their tastes molded, to an end.

That being said, I don't believe too many people engage in a hobby that doesn't move them. I don't often hear: "I work all day, I find emotional comfort is doing such and such but I hate such and such."

It's almost invariably people who are producing something that feel the need to push off a product on society. Once again, this is consumerism and marketing 101, but let's not pretend its art without commercial pretense. And if one has commercial pretense one must have a commercial product.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

EDIT: but let's not pretend it's

Side note: I've noted Cormac McCarthy never uses apostrophes (?) What a stylistic tic. LOL

King said...

One scarcely knows where to begin with such nonsense.
I see Mr Joyce as basically anti-literature. I've never seen a writer argue so strongly against his own art.
The publishing giants are looking neither for quality nor for work which can reach the general public. They waste their budgets on narrowly focused thinly written stuff like "Posh," which I recently received a review copy of. Nothing at all original gets a chance-- which excludes most of the ULA's best writers from the outset, including Bill Blackolive, James Nowlan, Wred Fright, Leopold McGinnis, Jack Saunders, and so on.
If the book companies were looking for sales, why weren't they at all interested in the ULA three years ago or so when we were getting all kinds of press attention?
Even considering myself-- I don't know, maybe I'm missing something, but I think I'm at least as readable as James Wood or Sven Birkerts, and about 100 times more provocative.
Obviously, there's something else going on.
And yes, that writers from the uppermost class of society get the vast bulk of the promotional money book giants offer, and the vast bulk of the press attention, does naturally tend to exclude other writers. Who can doubt this?
What's the publicity budget of every one of Rick Moody's novels?
I get occasional e-mails from authors, published by the bigs, who complain that they get NO promotional backing from their companies. There is a pecking order.
Who makes the decisions regarding which books are published? Literary agents? They tend to come from a narrow perspective; educated conformists; generally if not always from the upper levels of society.
Think even about this, which increases the odds against writers like ULAers:
Even the "alternative" papers on the east coast are staffed predominately by Ivy Leaguers-- which means, a very exclusive viewpoint.
Eggers may not be "commercial" but he's benefitted greatly from being able to reach and tap into the viewpoint of the opinion makers in the print media. He's appealed intentionally to one specific societal class-- the overeducated, who tend to be affluent.
Ground-up grass roots writers have a much more difficult task-- as if the odds weren't stacked against them to begin with.
p.s. We in the ULA believe literature can reach everybody and anybody. We believe this because it's reached us. We know there are many thousands like us-- and millions who'd be like us if given half the chance.

King said...

Joyce, I do want to keep you on point regarding some matters, because you're neo-conservative if not neo-fascist.
1.) Please explain the Hanah Arendt quote you cited.
2.) Why does your opinion about The Beats match so well the famous screed of Norman Podhoretz against them?
3.) You indicated early on that you're a professional writer. Then you indicated that you're not. Which is it?
4.) Still waiting for your opinion about my "The Conservative Fallacy" quote.
-You're an obvious propagandist who seems to be posting here for a reason. That you hide your identity of course keeps us from knowing what that reason is. Fairly reprehensible, in my book-- though not as reprehensible as your relentlessly negativist ideas.

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

I see Mr Joyce as basically anti-literature. I've never seen a writer argue so strongly against his own art.

I love literature, in fact I finished two books today. I actual prefer books to people most of the time, because as I get older, I understand that I will never get through all the volumes that I want. I have to strike a balance amongst the classics, the commercial, the indy, the young, the old, etc., etc., and this is all before I get to non-fiction. I calculated by non-fiction backlog as extending LITERALLY to 2011, and this is without taking into account new non-fiction books that will be released (I usually have to prioritize the political books that don't date well.)

I am a realist. A mature artist who prefers not to fall into cliches that have haunted the profession for years. I find utopians of all stripes in all areas to be annoying.

The publishing giants are looking neither for quality nor for work which can reach the general public.

This is incorrect. While the "giants" and yes there are 7-9 of them, are focused on the bottom line, they do admire good writing. Taking on commercial ventures allows them to take on more risky work, provided it is good. I know the ULA has to be aware of the advances paid out to "hot-shot" young POMO writers who turned out flop. I remember hearing that Kunkel's novel Indecision had only sold 1,500 copies during its first few months.

Editors, and even those involved in marketing, have a deep love of books. The bigwigs can be a little too focused on the profit margin, but publishing is first and foremost a business.

They waste their budgets on narrowly focused thinly written stuff like "Posh," which I recently received a review copy of. Nothing at all original gets a chance-- which excludes most of the ULA's best writers from the outset, including Bill Blackolive, James Nowlan, Wred Fright, Leopold McGinnis, Jack Saunders, and so on.

It has to be marketable. It would be ridiculous to put $25,000 behind something that is going to tank. I would never seek out a commercial publisher, specifically for that reason. I'm indy and studied the market long and hard, and know that my manuscript will have little chance of a profit, hence seeking out regional publishers and online promotion.

No agent, or I should say very very few, would pass on something that had appeal. If the ULA writers were actually writing something that they wanted they would snatch it up. This isn't to say they make mistakes, but everyone gets rejected (59 rejections before my first short story was accepted).

You can even see the industry's perspective if you are not rich. I like to spend spare money on two things (Guinness and Books). I have a finite amount of money and must evaluate an almost endless amount of books and decide what to purchase. Consumers in general are like this. Publishers/Consumers do not owe any writer publication/dollars. There are many variables, and how many writers think they are bad and shouldn't be published. The ULA is just a small minority of writer's who think some injustice is being done to them by an industry that can barely turn a profit (a small minority of books constitute a vast majority of the profits) and an industry that consists mostly of people who do love books (although scammers like PublishAmerica and Barbara Bauer are are/were around)

If the book companies were looking for sales, why weren't they at all interested in the ULA three years ago or so when we were getting all kinds of press attention?

This does not = sales, as any marketing rep who has overseen a $500,000 marketing campaign fail. It isn't hard to get press attention in the online age. The question is why did the ULA not use it? It takes about a year from acceptance for a book to hit shelves, by then quick mentions are of no relevance. No doubt your approach turned a lot of people off. The publishing process requires a cordial relationship and people don't want to spend hours working with people they don't feel comfortable with. No author who isn't raking in tens, or hundreds, of millions of dollars can ever justify being anything other than professional. J.K Rowling can assassinate editors and still be arrogant, but of course she is a humble woman (who was on welfare, struggling, 17 years ago and of course wrote a book that rejected many times by publishes in England).

I get occasional e-mails from authors, published by the bigs, who complain that they get NO promotional backing from their companies. There is a pecking order.

This is a fact of life. Bigger authors/more famous authors/those with bigger advances, are all more important to the bottom line than others. In most cases, this is due to the material. There is little that can be done to market a number of books. The publisher doesn't owe the author anything but royalty payments. If authors are so concerned with sells (hopefully they aren't calling themselves INDY) then they should be out hustling.

And yes, that writers from the uppermost class of society get the vast bulk of the promotional money book giants offer, and the vast bulk of the press attention, does naturally tend to exclude other writers. Who can doubt this?

Can you back this up?

What's the publicity budget of every one of Rick Moody's novels?

I have no exact figures. I would assume more than a first-time published author, since he has a core audience (albeit a small one). I doubt he is getting marketing budgets that can match Charles Frazier, et al.

Joyce, I do want to keep you on point regarding some matters, because you're neo-conservative if not neo-fascist.

Ad-Hominem. If you are going to ad-hom at least get it right: I am neither fascist, nor neo-conservative. I'm not even conservative period.

1.) Please explain the Hanah Arendt quote you cited.

As per all people talking of revolution, they always become conservative the second they meet any large goal, unless logically they would already be advocating their own overthrow.


2.) Why does your opinion about The Beats match so well the famous screed of Norman Podhoretz against them?

I have nothing against the Beats, at least nothing major. I like drugs and I like passion. I'm just saying there was a time and a place for it, and there literature shows extreme naiveté. There is also the matter of Ginsberg and pederasty, but I can separate art from artist.

All in all, I favor Bukowski by a longshot, because he had a grasp of reality and wasn't overtaken by nonsense. The main downside of Bukowski is, like Hemingway, he spawned too many imitators. Wow, it is almost unbelievable.

3.) You indicated early on that you're a professional writer. Then you indicated that you're not. Which is it?

Where did I say I was a professional writer? I write full-time but professional would be a stretch as I do not earn a steady income. I would like to see the source of the post in which I said I am a professional writer. If I ever said that then I would be incorrect. My definition of professional is one who has a guaranteed source of income from their writing.

4.) Still waiting for your opinion about my "The Conservative Fallacy" quote.
-You're an obvious propagandist who seems to be posting here for a reason. That you hide your identity of course keeps us from knowing what that reason is. Fairly reprehensible, in my book-- though not as reprehensible as your relentlessly negativist ideas.


You seem to think everyone who disagrees is some sort of propagandist. I do not post my name because I am not a narcissist. I use a pen name for my stories (I would use the old "Anonymous" if mags would let me) because I do not seek attention to fulfill any defect or desire. My work speak for itself, the fact that I say it doesn't matter.

King said...

It's a difference of viewpoints. You're rigidly status quo. You have no imagination and no vision. You're capable of seeing only there here and now-- which I see as a limitation, sorry.
No field or endeavor is ever advanced by the likes of you. You're merely a caretaker.
(And sorry, but you're very vague about what you do and who you are. "I'm preparing two books. . ."
What does that mean? Are you an editor?)
One can take any period in business history and show the stupidity of your viewpoint.
Automobiles 1959.
JJ: "The public wants only 5,000 pound monster cars with fins. We know this because that's what the public is buying."
An analyst like you would never have foreseen the Mustang, the Volkswagen, the Japanese, and dozens of other crucial changes over the decades.
In fact, the reason the American car companies are going broke is because they've steadfastly had your kind of viewpoint. The IS, the now, for them is everything-- and they're always behind the curve.
SUV's were making them huge profits. Never anticipate anything!
It's a loser strategy.
You say yourself that the book business is barely profitable.
Is this an edict from God?
Or is there not something fundamentally wrong with what they're doing?
We don't live in a static universe. It's constantly changing.
SOMEONE will come along and turn the entire market on its head, with new kinds of writers and new ideas. Likely not the ULA-- we have no resources, which is a severe handicap. But someone. Your kind will be looked upon as merely outmoded dinosaurs.
(At least try to shake the dust and cobwebs out of your arguments. Using outdated terms like "middlebrow" severely dates you. And I'm waiting for a SPECIFIC from history to illustrate your Arendt quote.)

James Joyce Is the Greatest Writer... Ever said...

It's a difference of viewpoints. You're rigidly status quo. You have no imagination and no vision. You're capable of seeing only there here and now-- which I see as a limitation, sorry.

I'm not so much "status-quo" as I am realistic. I don't see a need to change the actual writers as writers will always write. The culture of the MFA is going to implode (for fiction, it is probably always going to remain for fiction).

Also the business model that many publishing houses use is still stuck in the days of "fedora and cigars" so to speak.

Gradual change is of course always best that way what doesn't work can be descried quicker and it will do less damage that it would be becoming the new "status quo" by being implemented too quickly.

No field or endeavor is ever advanced by the likes of you. You're merely a caretaker.

Actually, the entire field of science and economics takes a similar approach. One can't just come up with a scientific hypothesis and promote it as some sort of theory. Anyone doing such a thing in even the soft sciences is probably a crank. There is a process which weeds out that which cannot withstand tests.

But that is the difference between objective fields and art. One can still actually write epics or sonnets to their heart's content, but thinking that sonnets are going to replace pop music is just unrealistic.

In fact, the reason the American car companies are going broke is because they've steadfastly had your kind of viewpoint.

The goal of car companies is not to produce art. You seem to actually be arguing for even more rigid applications. A car is produced but outside of color every Ford Taurus from a model year looks the same as another Ford. Same goes for all car models. For all your views on art, for you to compare literature to a utilitarian consumer product seems to top even the views of the most rapacious CEO of a publishing house (who refer to books as "units").

The goal in an industry like automanufacturing is pure profit. One can produce good designs but utility is first and foremost. People aren't clamoring for "Art in cars"

You say yourself that the book business is barely profitable.
Is this an edict from God?


It's simply a fact. It never was hugely profitable. The market is glutted, and fiction is not read as much as it once was. This isn't the fault of the industry it is just that the public doesn't support fiction and there are far too many writers (supply) and low demand. In my opinion, publishers need to be even more strict in what gets out.

Or is there not something fundamentally wrong with what they're doing?

There are only so many things that can be changed as the amount of readers limits the market. Harlequin is not going to do away with their model when in fact it is obviously working.

Most of the problems are with the smaller houses and others that are glutting the marketplace. Unlike the film industry, where it takes millions to do a solid film (although there are rare exceptions) which weeds out every and their mother from producing flicks. It allows a calm and calculated approach. Which of course enables INDY film makers to get noticed and viewers to catch their breath.

There is no way the industry, or I should say publishing houses collectively, can justify the sheer amount of books being produced.


SOMEONE will come along and turn the entire market on its head, with new kinds of writers and new ideas. Likely not the ULA-- we have no resources, which is a severe handicap. But someone. Your kind will be looked upon as merely outmoded dinosaurs.

No one is going to turn the market on its head. There will be big changes, but these will come gradually. What works in other industries, even in the arts, simply doesn't work in publishing. In television, networks simply ape each other, and the public doesn't seem to mind. A book that aspires to be the next '(insert imitation of bestseller)' will be seen as a cheap knockoff. However, there are genres in which formula pays off (romance, sci-fi/fantasy). Oddly enough, the ULA attacks one of the smallest segments of a small publishing world, and a segment that isn't even doing anything other than functioning as it should: people buying books from writers they like.

Speaking of change, the "Book Reviewing" process is in need of some serious tweaking. Most magazines don't review fiction, but amongst the publications that review books it seems to be a timid process. There are even professional review services, that concept is rather stupid as a professional service would lose business by being honest about a crappy book. I can't speak about the whole public, but I sure ignore most reviews, as I simply cannot bear to listen to promotion that is obviously uneven (in cinema critics actually make sense). I find myself relying on word of mouth and Amazon customer reviews more and more (although the later is problematic due friends patting each other on the back). This isn't just literary fiction it happens with all of segments, even self-published crap. Atlanta Nights actually has gotten good reviews. The book was intentionally bad, yet still somehow gets positive feedback. Yikes.

Dale Peck may be a douche, but it was entertaining watching him assail Moody.

King said...

Blah blah blah. Peck was certainly a more entertaining writer than you!
(With all your posts I get the image of a stuffed mannequin in an armchair, with a tape recorder playing, "blah blah blah blah blah," in a stuffy room in an old Victorian house. Someone needs to open the windows and allow a little air into your brain.)

jimmy grace said...

King, walled in again, resorting to personal attacks. Next up: why JJ is really Jonathan Lethim.

King said...

No, Elliott, not walled in by any means, just carrying a completely different viewpoint from the utterly pessimistic assessment of JJ. Nothing new coming from him; nothing interesting. Seemingly no reason for him to be involved in writing. If he feels no excitement about the art himself, he'll never be able to convey it.
IF literature is to survive and prevail, then it has to offer confidence about itself. To me this is obvious.
It's what the ULA offers. If we can get any room to maneuver at all in this society, our message will prevail.

jimmy grace said...

Actually, if your message carried anything but spite, you'd be given room to manuever.

King said...

On the contrary. The spite is coming from the crooks we exposed; the corrupt and the greedy. The spite is expressed by you being here! Your gang of thieves is certainly more obsessed with us than the other way. I don't even look at the McSweeney's site. Pretentious blandness. Nothing there to see but the same-old stale back patting.
JJ in his posts has actually done the ULA a great service, by revealing the essential pessimism of the literary mainstream. They don't believe they can reach more readers and don't even try.
The ULA by contrast is completely optimistic about the role literature-- writers and poets-- can play in this society.
It's reached US and we know it can reach everybody.
All we ask of the negativists is to get out of the way.

jimmy grace said...

Greedy, corrupt, gang of thieves, pessimism, negativists who are somehow in your way: and that's all from a single comment of yours. Nope, no spite.

King said...

Not spite. The reality of the literary world today. Corruption which has been well documented time and again.
Spite? Again, you're here posting against me. You haven't seen me on your blog. I couldn't care less what you and your handlers are doing. But if you keep provoking me I may someday visit your fair city and crash a reading or two of yours. Then you'll have your opportunity to debate! Now fly away or start using your real name. Your continual cowardice is embarrassing.

fdw said...

Stance Not Pose

The kids alright hip and skip out
of the Sacred Heart High Jinx
must be threethirty or five of/ clock shadow
with me in my paint rags totes
power tools oh say zip it
hear the dark boys scrap their lip
one raps up the side step walk
in squirrel hill catholic
I muse hooded home
withall assume the position
of the pack lead dawg and down/ with:
“you could be my main supplier”
I dunked, “I am merely the pair of pliers”.

9.06.

jimmy grace said...

If you crash a Stephen Elliott reading you will find a very confused person not knowing what the hell you're talking about.

fdw said...

"Dimmy, dimmy, why you do dis to me Dimmy"
-- the Excorcist.
And admitting it is half the cure. (The confusion is meant here.)