THE ACCEPTANCE by writers of the literary world's caste system is akin to the European masses who for generations blindly accepted the Divine Right of Kings. The aristocrats have everything and we have nothing because that's just the way it is. Their wealth, armies, and castles. . . .
The result is that, all literary bluebloods like Mr. Moody have to do is say the magic words, "Open, Sesame," and everything is handed to them.
Lo! the huge cover story in Bust magazine, copies strategically placed at chain store entrances, about rich Mayflower brat Miranda July.
The article, needless to say, is a complete unquestioning puff piece, full of gushy-gush golly gee isn't this great! kind of writing, the "journalist" too thrilled being in the presence of royalty to turn on her brain and think. If Miranda were wearing a dildo the Bust writer would've crawled under the table and tried to swallow it. I would not for one moment doubt this occurred.
Who are we to question the way the literary world operates? We lowly workers and peasants? This is the way things are done, time and again. That Miranda July hasn't a speck of talent-- no matter. All one has to do is compare her stupendously shallow New Yorker story "Roy Spivey" about sitting next to a celebrity during a plane flight with a story about a plane ride by a real writer, "Girl on a Plane" by Mary Gaitskill, to notice the stark, cavernous, distance-between-galaxies difference.
Who are we to judge? It's not as if such literary farces don't occur every day-- the well-backed movie version of Susan Minot's bland Valium-level Evening being stocked with every prominent actress in Hollywood from Meryl Streep on down.
The most amazing part of it all, simply astoundingly amazing, is that the delicate blueblood aristocrats accept the hype and accolades as their due without a smirk (which at least Dave Eggers has the sense to offer as he puts one over on the reading public.). Poor waifish rich girl Miranda rose immediately to the top of the heap because, well, I guess because she deserved to. Not a thought, not a momentarily flashed lightbulb, turns on in her brain to alert her that something's wrong with the picture. She stands before the flashbulbs of million-dollar hype as stupidly as Fluffy the blue-furred Persian at the local cat show.
Similarly, Rick Moody accepts grant money because I guess he needs it. Or could spend it. On a new car. Or a painting (wait, that's Franzen) or a trip to Europe or something.
The literary aristocrats are as unquestioning of the stratified nature of today's society and today's lit world as the unquestioning peasants, and so are at least as stupid. "Open, Sesame!"
THE CROOKED CASINO
This civilization, certainly the part of it concerned with literature, beyond the lies of its ideals and corrupted myths, is like a casino within which every game of chance is egregiously rigged.
For starters, have that $80,000 entrance fee ready or whatever it costs to obtain an MFA degree.
Somehow you make it inside the door along with the other suckers. You notice the colorful red-and-black roulette wheels are tilted. At the poker tables everyone knows one another-- except an empty chair strategically placed for the newly arrived rube: you. Can the dealer be trusted? I don't think so-- she resembles Maud Newton. In her distracted moments she seems to be listening via a receiver in her ear to instructions from above the floor.
The slot machines filling the room in endless rows, manned by thousands of MFA grads, never seem to payout. Oh, there's one. It gave back a handful of quarters.
What a joke of a place, you think. A waste of time and money. At least they have entertainment! You walk into a huge room to await the floor show. Out step Rick Moody and Miranda July in top hats and tails to do a little soft shoe. Their voices are weak and off-key. They stumble around, dropping their canes. Several stooge Bust and New Yorker magazine plants in the audience pretend to love it. Everyone else stares in bemusement, or incomprehension, stunned by the gall of it all. You notice half of the audience has left-- you're not far behind them.
Back among the slot machines, you blankly push money into one of them. Relief from the trauma of the comical truth. You notice Miranda July next to you on her break has decided to try one also. She pulls the lever once. A rush of noise: a tremendous payout. With no embarrassment she scoops the money into her top hat and winks at you.
"Open, Sesame," she says, then departs.