Thursday, May 31, 2007


The 700 Critics at the National Book Critics Circle are not the 300 Spartans.

No willingness to fight the aggression of empire. No unflinching bravery.

Think about this: The Underground Literary Alliance never seems to have more than 7 active members at any one time-- yet those bedraggled 7 have been responsible, through their own work or others, as displayed at the ULA's Monday Report (, for more real investigative reporting about the literary world than the NBCC's 700 esteemed book journalists.

Sports journalists are notorious fans of their sports and of individual stars and teams-- yet even they are capable of more real reporting than book people; about scandals, corruption, and salaries of sports personalities from players to CEOs. On sports pages the reader finds conflict, contention, exposes. On sleepy book pages? An antidote to insomnia.

From all appearances the 700 alleged book critics serve not readers, or the cause of literature, or even writers, but: book publishing. Which means, by and large, monopoly.

Is this too harsh a statement? Not if one reads Jane Ciabattari's fluffball interview at Critical Mass blog with Harper Perennial publisher Carrie Kania. Unknown is Kania's position viz-a-viz writers: What salary does she pull down from the Murdoch empire? What are Murdoch's profits from the book trade?

Unasked is even one question about the concentration of power and money in the literary world today.

We do have Carrie Kania's assurances that she and Harper Perennial love everybody.

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