Friday, May 25, 2007

The Answer


The irony about the lit-world's blocking of the Underground Literary Alliance is that we're the answer for literature's problems. We're representative of the general public. We offer an energetic avenue for connecting literature back to that public.

The answer WON'T be found at $85+ admission fee conglomerate book expos where panelists like Princeton professors and upper-class Brits who helped create the problem are going to try to analyze before a select RSVP audience what went wrong. It's like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaking about what went wrong at the Justice Department under his watch.

Book review organization the National Book Critics Circle meanwhile, which is utterly upper-bourgeois, thoroughly UN-representative of the kind of writers and readers they should want, broadens its scope with babysteps like adding onto their board the likes of lit-blogger Lizzie Skurnick, a Yale grad. Their salvation, their outreach, consists of reaching out to Yale grads! This is like trying to escape from a locked room by adding another closed door.

The literati, in all their panic of vanishing book review newspaper pages because nobody reads them, instinctively know the solution to their difficulties. It's why we're seeing a parade of ULA-like substitutes appearing suddenly, from dead guy Roberto Bolano to corporate ranter Chuck Palooka to the ex-zinester dishwasher character. It's as if media types looking for writing that's new, different, and exciting are telling their staffs, "Get me somebody who's like the ULA!"

The policy, of course, is A.B.T.U. Anybody But The ULA.
Underground Literary Alliance.

The NBCC is only too happy to promote instead the big monopolies, including the Rupert Murdoch empire. Murdoch's gang at Fox News coined the phrase "Fair and Balanced." I'm going to ask the NBCC to be fair and balanced and give the ULA the same kind of coverage they give Monopolistic Murdoch. I offer them an interview by phone or e-mail with a leading ULAer-- someone like ULA author Wred Fright, who's not only one of our long-time leading members, but also has a book out. I'll send NBCC my e-mail and we can set this up.

The only way to balance the monopolists is to give coverage to ANTI-monopolists, and right now in the book biz the ULA is it.


King said...

(Text of the e-mail I just sent the NBCC's Critical Mass lit-blog staff.)

Re: my newest post at

The only way I see for you to balance the Murdoch empire with the anti-monopoly side of the literary equation is to put up an interview on your blog with a ULA representative. (We are the only vocal anti-monopolists in the American lit-world today.) A photo of one of our books should be included, as you included a photo of the Harper-Perennial (Murdoch-owned) release.

I know you support open access, free speech, and a fair marketplace.

I look forward to your response. Thanks.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas,
Publicity Director

Noah Cicero said...

"(We are the only vocal anti-monopolists in the American lit-world today.)"

Wenclas that is untrue and you know that.

Tao, Gene Morgan at Bear Parade, Dennis Johnson from Melville House and I, and a shit load of other people aren't for monopoly controlled literature.

You can see that by how many internet zines there are, and how they aren't connected or funded by corporations.

Wenclas, I think you're selling yourself short when you say that.

It might not be apparent now, but a lot of young writers I know personallly have read your blog and been influenced by what you have said and notified us of.

King said...

Thanks for the post, Noah.
Note that I say "vocal" anti-monopolists, which excludes those who are not speaking out strongly against them, as well as those who may be eager to sell out to them.
I was very disappointed for instance that few if any lit people were outraged or even concerned by the monied takeover of the small press organization last year (subject of a two-part "Monday Report" for the ULA site).
Or, the Matthiessen/Paris Review revelation: Is anyone besides the ULA even willing to look into the matter, to see how far it extended, and how far it goes?
But I'll concede that you may be right that others agree with us in principle-- though I can't say I've had much encouragement on that score until your post here and now! We generally face total abuse and scorn from, well, everyone.
I'll amend my statement to say that the ULA is at the forefront of anti-monopoly activism in the literary world, and therefore a fitting representative for that point-of-view. Will that do it?

King said...

p.s. You know what pisses me off, if anything, Noah, is that seemingly no one in the literary world (besides scattered undergrounders like ourselves) care or are even aware of how the industrial heartland of this country has been economically destroyed the last couple decades. It's a huge story which everyone seeks to ignore. Thousands and thousands of lives were ruined. I witnessed the economic destruction of one of America's great cities. With the final downturn of the auto industry, this is obviously still going on. Our great lit-folk know none of this, and don't want to know. They won't even acknowledge there's a class system in this country-- and one better not speak of it. And certainly not show a trace of anger about it.
My going after particular corrupt Overdogs is always seen as merely personal. Of course! It has to be personal. To think otherwise, for them-- for most literati-- can't happen, because such thoughts would allow into their heads the realities of this society. . . .
(Realities that The Man in the Black Hat, for instance, can never accept, because to do so would invalidate his success, his entire standing.)

Noah Cicero said...


No, no one talks about the midwest and its shittiness.

I've been emailed by agents telling me I have talent and skill.

And they ask me to write a novel about the midwest, and they like the agents they are explain to me what they would like me to do.

They ask generally for one of two things.

1. To write something and comical making fun of midwest people.

and most common, the way to get on Oprah and have Elijah Wood star in a movie of your book.

2. Write a book about how everyone sucks and everything sucks and how a character works hard and gets a scholarship to Yale or Harvard and escapes their shit hole in the end.

I said I didn't want to do either of those and the agent then suggested i write a story where the guy murders everyone at the end.

Which just sounded crazy to me.

I don't want to write a book like that.

It is like they want me to hate my class, either by making fun of them or by saying how they is stupid.

and if the person went on a murder spree, you and I know it couldn't just be rich people. It would have to be a random collection of people.

Also what I've encountered is that a character no matter how evil they are, must be shown in a way that the audience can forgive that character. You can't just have a horrible asshole.

Like if you have a manager and she's an evil power hungry bitch and that is all she shows the world.

The agent and editor wants you to write in a scene where somehow this bitch of a manager is somehow forgiven.

That there are no actual assholes in this world.

I write an article a few weeks ago about women from the eastside of Youngstown and a woman wrote a letter bitching calling it satire. She would not believe it was real. Even though I had not lied about one word, I could in truth have written worse.

But she refused to believe that there are really and truly fucked up people in the world.

I understand that how people from the upper-classes can get that view of not making strict judgements of people.

You and I, both have been in bars and on shitty streets and dealt with fucked up characters at jobs, and know that you need to make quick judgements of who to deal with and who not deal with, and how some people need to be cheated to survive.

You being from Detroit and me being from Youngstown, for sure you like I have been in a situation when you are sitting in a bar and you kind of drunk and just looking around and you catch a large dude's guys and he's wearing a certain color bandana and you know what that bandana represents and he goes, "What the fuck you looking at?" You better make some judgements pretty quickly about what to do.

You and I have both dealt with slave driver managers that are actually only making 30,000 a year and have turned on their own class, and we know they will never show kindness or respect to us, and we have to adjust our behaviors to suit their power-hungry needs or that car insurance won't get paid on the 16th.

We both know what it is like to be working somewhere and the owner drops in and walks among us like we are the scum of the earth.

We know these things.

I want to suggest a writer to you, Fawzy Zablah, a young Latino writer living in Miami. The guy is really good and writes beautifully. His book Ciao Miami is a really good short book he published through Lulu. He has a couple stories online. Go check him out.

I want to say concerning corporations owning presses, is that this is really a question of what democracy means to people.

Democracy means to me that everyone has a voice. That we can all get the mainstream and say something. That democracy is more than just voting.

When a huge business centralized and owned only by a few owns television stations, magazines, movie studios and book presses it causes nothing but stagnation to that country.

It hurts me that they do not love democracy.

A friend told me today that where he works they took the radio away. They were no longer allowed to enjoy music at work.

Wenclas, they used to let the slaves sing, even the slaves.

They won't let us sing anymore.

In June The Human War will be distributed to the stores and later on it will be distributed to stores in Greece.

In America I'm not in any stores.

In America I am not allowed to sing.

In America if I sing they want to stifle my voices with their version of what my world is.

At this moment:
Jack Kerouac's On The Road is ranked 1,712

And Saul Bellow's Adventure's of Augie March is ranked 29,752

We know who is right in this debate.

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