Monday, June 11, 2007

The Celebration of Mediocrity

FRANCINE PROSE is an apt choice as PEN boss, major representative of establishment lit, because as a writer and a thinker she's a mediocrity.

Like so many standard-issue writers, Prose is to literature as Starbucks is to coffeeshops. While there you're guaranteed a predictable experience. You will not be disappointed, outraged, or surprised. You'll receive comfortable drinks in a comfortable setting surrounded by comfortable music and cd's.

Is there anything memorable about any Francine Prose essay, story, or book you've ever read? Anything striking?

What odds would be given if Francine Prose were ever unsafe, un-bourgeois enough to publicly debate someone like me? Ten-to-one against her? 100 to 1? The prospect is evidence of her true ability.

Likewise, newspaper book review sections today are dying because they're Celebrations of Mediocrity.

What distinguishes the ULA from the rest of the literary world is that we risk everything. We're not afraid to irritate people. Our writing is sometimes very bad and other times so good as to be genius (see Walsh, Nowlan, et.al.). Never is it mediocre. We're not playing it safe. Our disorderly spectrum of gonzo noise is far broader than the narrow acceptable parameters of the orderly mainstream-- which means that if great charismatic writers are ever able to be discovered again it will be by the ULA.

1 comment:

King said...

Discover some great Frank Walsh poetry, "Nazi Art Vault," at the ULA Poetry and Fiction blog, link to the side of the original post.
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I may start giving odds for people to debate me. Does anyone deserve better than 10 to 1?
I'd put an Ed Rants at 20 to 1-- he'd be chewed to pieces.
A Carlin Romano in the neighborhood of 30 to 1.
Anyone on the nine-member NBCC blogging committee would be prohibitive underdogs.
If anyone doubts these figures, let's see your money.