Monday, May 12, 2008

Montezuma

OCCASIONALLY an establishment mouthpiece will show up on this blog with superficially plausible arguments and for a time score a few points. My wonder is why they still insist on remaining anonymous. Wouldn't a "Harland" want the credit due him for putting me in my place?

Yet he hesitates. He thinks he can destroy my arguments, but he's not sure. There remains a level of doubt-- and that doubt, that hesitation, reveals his own weakness and the weakness of the status quo behind him.

26 comments:

Harland said...

I'm not trying to put you in your place, and I apologize for being sneeringly facetious before. Establishment mouthpiece though I may be -- and though you know literally nothing about me, how could I be anything but, in your cosmology? -- I actually read your blog often. I also actually agree with what you're putting forward in a broad sense. Publishing is corrupt. Creative writing programs encourage mediocrity. OK. I get that. But I don't get how it's constructive in any way to turn everybody but you and people who agree with you into minor players in some caricatured hierarchy within which Rick Moody (Rick Moody!) is making all the decisions and receiving all the benefits. I don't understand if your argument is political or aesthetic. I don't understand if the political argument is class-based or based purely on the mercenary economics of publishing. I don't understand the aesthetics at all. Though "experimental" fiction has the most difficult time finding a publisher, you seem to reject it as elitist or irrelevant. I guess I'd like to know what the relevance consists of. Is Sinclair Lewis to your liking? Hubert Selby? John Steinbeck? Jean Genet? Louis-Ferdinand Celine? Floyd Salas? John Fante? Charles Bukowski? I'm trying to think of writers who write "real" fiction about "real" life. I'm not sure I get what you mean by this, nor am I sure how depicting characters who occupy a certain economic class provides an enhanced or more authentic literary experience, though I'll grant that it may provide an educational or informative experience.

King said...

What Hubert Selby, Steinbeck, and Co were doing was inserting BALANCE into literary culture against the literature of manners which has at times become so dominant in our literary mindset. (Such as now.)
We've already established that you see myself as a caricature. Do I caricature the established literary hierarchy? At times, no doubt. (The whole point of my Literary Mystery posts.) I'm trying to make the entity visible; to provide an outline for it.
Can we at least agree there IS a hierarchy?
Mr. Moody has to exist near the top. Why else does he continue to be embraced by nearly all the small but influential power centers which exist within the narrow limits of the Manhattan literary scene-- PEN a recent example. If one were to construct a map of the literary establishment, the nonprofit segment would have its place alongside the universities and the conglomerates. He floats through all segments in various ways.
Re my argument. It appears you're looking for some easy box or niche to put it into. ("Is he Marxist? Does he promote Social Realism?")
I'm against monopoly-- and my argument is class-based only to the extent that it's impossible for any open-eyed person today to ignore class, when it influences so much of our society. In actuality it's the dominant factor in American life. (My solution would be to take away the factors which create monopoly-- such as manipulations of government and the money supply.)
Re: experimental fiction. Some experimental writers find publishers and some don't, usually based on their credentials and who they know. There are plenty of experimental writers in the underground whose work I appreciate and talk up, though that's not what I myself do.
ULAers like Wred Fright and James Nowlan aren't writing traditional fiction or realistic fiction, but neither is it "experimental" in the postmodern or avant-garde fashion.
In my mind the avant-garde is dead and should be buried. What was cutting edge in 1920 is hardly cutting edge now.
My own writing isn't strictly realist.
As I've said, we need a new synthesis, a new kind of poetry and prose. I'm groping toward this as a writer and a promoter.
More folks should be doing so.
What exists isn't cutting it.
Re yourself. Well, yeah, we DON'T know anything about you, do we?
I can judge you only on your words and your poses.

Anonymous said...

Well, there is a writer who can reasonably be said to be the leader of the most recent literary movement in America. He poured the money he got from the success of his first book into a publishing house that publishes a wide variety of fiction from across the spectrum, from highbrow experimentalism to low humor, established writers and unknowns, poetry and journalism and has pushed the voices of people so often denied access to literary culture, from immigrants to prisoners, while creating a nationwide outreach program for public school children, and attracting and retaining a growing audience for this kind of serious literary work, and meanwhile his own work expanded, his second book critiquing the money system in America and his latest a consideration of a searing aspect of African history. His name is Dave Eggers, and you hate him.

King said...

"Hate" is a strong word, and in this case it's not true.
I've said before that I respect what he's done-- though of course I've gone after his stance of independence, when he made sure to buddy up with all the trust funders when he started McS's.
His aesthetic is not a break with the status quo, but an affirmation of it. A celebration of it.
As I say in a detailed examination of the lit world which will be a future post, he's the only person who's done anything at all exciting in literature the past ten years.
Yes, for the ULA when we were making waves, he stood for an obstacle in our path-- THE person to compete with, if you will.
The lit world of course is terrified of competition, of dissension of any kind, which is the whole problem.
Do some trash talking, as I've certainly done, and everyone panics.
Yet it's the only thing that will really rescue literature-- to show there's LIFE in the old art, and not just a lot of museum-ready Philip Roth fossils.
Do the Pistons "hate" the Celtics? Maybe. But this is America, folks.
I'm going to point out what I see as wrong with others out there.
The McSweeneyite "215" people in Philly NEVER cut us any slack. I showed up for one of the events during the second year of the thing and was disrespected. Well, oh well, I thought. My task was then and remains to find a way to do things better.
But it's not personal-- it's strictly business.
(p.s. The "Boss Eggers" character returns in my next chapter of "Plutocracy USA" at the Literary Mystery blog. Should be up in the next couple days. You want Eggers-- you got it. You won't want to miss it!)

King said...

Regarding what's "constructive."
Lit people need to get beyond this whole baby-step hand-wringing boozhie mindset which is getting literature nowehere. It's not creating excitement. It is, in fact, the GM syndrome. Baby steps of progress while the world speeds past you.
What literature needs is some creative "destructive' activity, to cleanse the art form.
It's nature's way-- a good forest fire to burn out the dead wood and encourage new growth.
That's what the ULA brought to the lit world. We stood up in halls and denounced the entire house!
It woke people up.

Harland said...

"Constructive." OK, let me put it another way. Your critique of "the lit world" is nonsensical not because the fundamental points you make are wrong but because you then feel the need to inhabit them with specific boogeymen. Pretty much anybody who strays within your sights is the Problem, though the problem is institutional and not embodied in one author, or one group of authors, or the population of New York City, or whatever it is that you find offensive. I mean, I suspect writers hang around together because they have common interests, not so that they can gloat. I suspect writers, and many other people, live in New York because it's a more interesting city than either Philadelphia or Detroit. I don't understand how the institutionalized problem of shitty books published by bad writers who are paid too much money would be solved if -- what? Eggers were shot? Moody were to have his Guggenheim revoked? Writers were exiled to North Dakota? These are problems that have always existed. Name a great writer -- a revolutionary writer, to borrow your rhetoric -- and he or she wrote for the tiniest of audiences.

I don't think Rick Moody exists near the top of the hierarchy. That would be Stephen King. I don't think Moody sells nearly as many books as even a modestly bestselling author. I don't know if he's ever had a bestseller. He has access, which seems to be what burns you. Fine with me. I'll grant that writers would probably be far better off as writers, though less better off in their careers, if they avoided parties, boards, committees, panels, juries, screenplay writing, gladhanding reviews, guest editing gigs, adjunct and permanent faculty appointments, book tours, the media, and all the other things that drive you into a lather. Writers should write. OK. I buy it. Writers shouldn't strive to have careers. OK. I buy it. But in the face of all these annoying realities, in the face of the possibility that some demi-puppet is fortunate (or corrupt) enough to publish a book with a big New York house and receives twenty grand and then is offered an appointment to teach a course at, I don't know, NYU, what is this hypothetical author supposed to do, provided that they can find enough time to put down their cocktail shaker? Starve? Work stoking boilers?

It's actually not that easy to teach a creative writing course. Have you ever done it, King? At the undergraduate level you get about $250 a week for twenty hours' work. Have you ever pulled together a syllabus, come up with books and stories that might be helpful to a group of disparate students? Have you ever tried to help another writer improve his work even when its aims and methods were inimical to your own? Have you ever spent hours standing before a class discussing something of nuance, rather than dividing everything into black and white?

King, you know, I'm not that different from you. Taught myself to write. Read on my own. Never went to college. Didn't know anybody in "the literary world." Worked shit jobs. Got rejected constantly. It's actually a common story, this story we share. I think what you're doing, though, is equating this banal struggle you've gone through and are going through with "revolution." You're really just obscure and unpublished. Nothing "revolutionary" about that. You don't actually have to be changing the face of literature or challenging the status quo to get completely ignored. What makes you believe that that's the cause of the disinterest in your work?

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Too much for me to address today-- I have to get to my job.
But I'll say you're post shows a fundamental difference in outlook and philosophy between us.
Kind of easy to blame things just on the "institution," or to say that things have always been that way.
THAT is in fact the whole problem-- that the lit world is populated by caretakers, who've inherited a great legacy and blindly go through the motions of imitating it and/or keeping it vaguely in one piece.
Kid of like monks in the Middle Ages.
Re Stephen King. Sorry, like most popular authors, he's used to pay the bills more than anything, but isn't taken seriously. (He's actually anthologized more than most of his kind.) A John Updike carries much more weight within the establishment.
It's "literary" writers for the most part of the Overdog variety who sit on grants panels etc.-- and also receive tons of publicity which may even exceed that given to Stephen King.
Again, it's something which could be quantified.
You could look at the amount of pr backing given to both King and Moody, and divide by number of books sold, to see who's the preferred candidate.
Moody has also written for the big glossies. I don't recall seeing anything by Stephen King in Vanity Fair or Elle, but I could be mistaken.
(Again, Stephen King is one of the few best-sellers who's gone beyond the designated bounds of his kind of writer.)
Here's the real point:
If Stephen King had received a Guggenheim, or given out NEA bucks to his friends, then he certainly would have been a subject of an expose.
ANY institution is made up of individuals making individual choices. One can rail against the skyscraper for all eternity to no effect.
The only possible way to stir the beast is to target vulnerable points on it.
I actually have a post on THIS subject upcoming.
My readings of history tell me that individuals have way more influence than generally accepted nowadays. It's often those who stand alone who achieve change. I've been reading a bit about DeGaulle, for instance. Quite fascinating.
Re teaching. Oh, I've done some teaching. You may want to check out the essays I wrote about my excursions into teaching as a substitute-- written under the veneer of fiction, still up on this blog I believe at around August 2005 or thereabouts.
(I have a remark up about CW teachers shortly at "Happy.")
Re ignored. Please, let's be real. Check out my wiki entry sometime. I have a fairly substantial resume, yet, for instance, am not invited for lit panels talking about such things which I know more about than any writer in the country-- such as how to stage a spectacular reading; or marketing with absolutely no money. I've actually volunteered my services-- a big panel in Chicago upcoming-- and receive not even replies to my e-mails. Are you seriously telling me I'm not blackballed?
To that I can only reply,
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hahahahahahahahahaha!"

Harland said...

It might be that you're "blackballed" because you represent a threat to the status quo. Or it might be that you argue the same points over and over and then antagonize anyone who responds, whether they're trying to be sympathetic or not. Your resume is substantial the same way the resume of the guy who hit the woman with the paving stone a few years ago was substantial: it made all the papers! Great, so what you've proven is that in this day and age even someone with very little to offer, other than relentless self-promotion, can get some ink. Wowee.

King said...

I'm offering a lot-- an entirely different way of viewing literature.
I wonder why this bothers you so.
Why such concern about Mr. Moody and other Overdogs, who seem to be doing quite well without your help.
How do they earn your concern?
Are you his lawyer? Or Mr. Moody himself?
Just who are you, anyhow?
But we're making progress.
You've admitted that the literary world is hierarchical, and that I am blackballed. You're stepping just a bit out of the "pod" mode.
Keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Is every single person not invited to a panel to which they might have something to contribute a victim of "blackballing?"
Or just you?

Harland said...

I don't understand your view of literature. I'm not against it. I don't understand it. I don't understand what it is that you like, and what it is that you don't like, and why it is that you like or don't like it.

I don't have any particular "concern" for Rick Moody. It just seems that he remains one of your favorite targets, for no particular reason other than that through an accident of fate he was born into a wealthy family, has a hi-hat name that you can lampoon, and attended an Ivy League school. I've read four of his books. Some of his stories are quite good, others verge on shtick. I've read "The Ice Storm" and "Purple America," preferred the latter, but I imagine that you dismiss them because they're concerned with a particularly privileged segment of society.

You could substitute any one of a hundred names for his -- some better writers, some far worse. They all could climb aboard a Boeing 747 today and disappear in the Bermuda Triangle and nothing would be substantially different about the way that books are published, and writers are promoted and rewarded, in the USA.

Sure, the literary world is hierarchical. I never denied it. Like most hierarchies, it's sustained for mostly silly reasons, but I wouldn't call it impenetrable. As I suggested, you've gotten a decent share of ink.

No, I don't think you've been blackballed. Judging from what you say here, again and again and again, it seems to me that inviting you to serve on a panel would be of little use because your opinions are calcified and repetitive. I get no sense from you that you actually respond in any perceptive way to what people are saying -- you just select from among a hatful of canned ripostes. You're as full of talking points, and about as imaginative at deploying them, as an unsuccessful candidate for office. Whether you're "right" or not, why would anyone want to be browbeaten by a broken record? One wouldn't need to invite you to sit on a panel, one could just select from your posts at random and read them aloud to the same effect.

King said...

This is just crying, "Harland." The fact is that when people DO engage with myself and/or my friends, it makes for exciting exchanges-- AS when the ULA debated the Paris Review at CBGB's in 2001 (Tom Beller: "Wow! Was that an exciting event.") AS our Howl "crash" at Columbia's Miller Hall, which was also tremendously exciting. AS when I debated a Philly writer on radio last July.
AS just about every public event the ULA has been involved in.
The problem with your side is that you can't answer my points. You say they're repetitive. As repetitive as established literature itself? As repetitive as the same-old standard boring "literary" readings and presentations? I've attended scores of those kinds of events-- panels included. The ULA's hijinks were in part a reaction to them.
Sure, with my energy I might dominate any panel I'd be on-- but it'd be exciting.
The bottom line: instead of jumping into new territory, you're clinging to things-as-they-are, which ISN'T WORKING. I wish literary folk could view themselves the way non-literary people view them. Remember, I came from outside the halls of literature; was already a mature adult when I started seriously writing, and then because A.) I wasn't finding the writing I wanted to read-- no contemporary Jack Londons or Dumases, sorry; B.) I saw how completely lame the U.S. literary scene was, and believed that I could do better, and would be able to change things.
The condition of the patient turned out to be worse than I figured, however, but I'm still trying.

King said...

p.s. You sure SOUND like Mr. Moody-- who you introduced into this discussion.
But, why are you hiding your identity? It's been my experience the past seven years that people on the level use their own names/identities, and that the anonymice are anonymous for a reason.
(If you're not Mr. Moody, please look at your upside-down concerns for the guy. No concern about some great writers out there who are being ignored-- like Larry Richette to give only one name. Some people in this society are given opportunity after opportunity after opportunity after opportunity, while others receive nothing. Hell, our own President exemplifies that. Should we have that scene in literature? Hell no! Time to change things, my man. Sorry if you disagree, but I know literature can change and will have to change. . . . More of my noise is coming. Moody can apologize for abusing the grants process, we'll make peace and everyone will be happy. But my gawd! Funny how the sympathy goes to the miscreant while the whistle blowers are shoved aside. The American way???)

Anonymous said...

If these events are all so exciting, where are your fans? Why, when I look at all the comments on all your postings, is there not a single person (other than people in your organization) that says "Hey! That was awesome!" Instead you attract people who disagree with you, you abuse them, and they move on. Sorry, that's not populism. And that's not being blackballed, either.

Harland said...

Crying? About what? Nothing that you say "hurts" me, or hits me where I live. As I've said about three times, I agree with a lot of it in principle. You, on the other hand, keep hammering away at your preconception of who I am -- apparently Rick Moody or someone who looks a lot like him.

You know, I don't know how it is that you think you can write (let along revolutionize literature) if you can't even read. I believe what I said was that I *wasn't* concerned with Rick Moody. I believe what I said was that you could substitute any of 100 other writers for Rick Moody to serve as a voodoo doll. I believe what I said was that to be constructive (a conceit you immediately ridiculed) you might stop pointing fingers at the four or five individuals you've got a hard-on for.

I don't know what you've discovered in the course of gathering your experience, King, but one thing I've discovered in the course of gathering mine is to not allow people who give every sign of having crank/stalker potential have any entree into my life.

Again, I think it's good that you have no idea who I am. I'm telling you that I agree with a lot of what you say, you keep telling me I'm a pod person and a demi puppet and an establishment mouthpiece. I could be, I suppose, any one of those things. I could also be a similarly situated outsider, who just thinks that writers should shut the fuck up and write. Or I could be a combination of both.

If you were actually a revolutionary of any kind, you wouldn't give a shit what Thomas Beller thinks or go around bragging that he'd praised you.

I would "answer" your points, but you don't make points. You utter strange crabbed little complaints about how because you are excluded from things and your work remains ignored and unpublished by the mainstream this has to do with your revolutionary relevance and genius. It couldn't possibly have to do with the fact that you're the sort of "writer" who actually says things like "when people do engage with myself" and that you couldn't agree with somebody sitting next to you on the same porch about the weather.

"Remember, I came from outside the halls of literature." If you actually read what I'd written to you, you'd recall that I, too, come from outside those halls, wherever or whatever they are. Where the cocktail party is, I guess. But you didn't read it, or you've already decided that I'm Rick Moody, or his lawyer (I'm sure Moody's so wealthy he hires a lawyer -- if he doesn't have one on retainer! -- to try to scare off King Wenclas! As if that were possible!), or somebody very much like Rick Moody. Dave Eggers, perhaps. Or even Tom Beller. Or Alain Robbe-Grillet.

King said...

??? But again, we don't KNOW who you are-- and you have been here carrying water for Mr. Moody.
Could we substitute 100 writers for the guy? Okay. Let's do it. You tell me 100 other writers you've abused the grants process to the extent he has (yet is always called back from the foundations time after time) and I'll write about them. All 100.
Has I've written without hesitation about corruption when I found it or it was brought to my attention-- one of the earliest an in-depth examination of the incestuous relationship between the NEA and AWP-- writers taking turns being grantee and recipient, in some cases-- in my New Philistine #28, the issue publicly destroyed at Bennington.
You agree with much that I say? Really?
Do you agree that Mr. Moody should never have received the Guggenheim grant-- shouldn't have applied for it-- and that he could still apologize? (As well as apologize for giving friends like Jonathan Franzen NEA money a year later.)
Do you agree that many of the literary darlings of today given so much ink and money, like Miranda July, are in fact not very good writers?
What's your opinion of Mr. Shinder's "poetry"? Would it be impolite to comment?
I haven't heard agreement about anything from you except in broad generalities.
Re blackballing. That's actually the easiest thing to prove.
Think about it, Harland. From 2001 to 2003 I was receiving all kinds of ink-- through my efforts as ULA publicist. I was well-known as a provocative writer-- adept at receiving publicity; in Page Six many times. Just what a magazine would want from an essayist, don't you think? On top of this, I'm actually a pretty fair writer-- wrote a couple 8,000-word essays for the esteemed literary journal The North American Review in 1994, had done a well-received review for Bookforum, and of course had written a lot of stirring essays in New Philistine, of which quite a few people in the lit-biz were subscribers. Once the ULA was started I received not a nibble, not a word of interest in my writing.
Curious, isn't it?
Is the ULA itself on a blacklist?
It shouldn't be. Yet we sent out scores of review copies of ULA Press books and have seen no reviews from anyplace connected in any way with the status quo anyplace. (Sadly, not even in Philadelphia, which is a crime.)ONE lit-blogger that I know of reviewed two of the books-- Daniel Green-- and gave quite positive reviews of the two, by the aforementioned James Nowlan and Wred Fright. (He threw in at the top of his review an obligatory slam at me.) The two novels are quite good-- but, you know, the blacklist is now well in place.
Well, we deserve it, because we pissed off people, right?
What really came first?
Has Bill Blackolive been ignored for decades because he's a ULAer? Lawrence Richette because he's showed up at ULA readings?
Or is something else in the lit world taking place-- the game, first, of connections. (If dissenters ARE being blackballed for that reason, then it's a deplorable situation. When you dissent, you're going to piss off folks. It comes with the territory. To close the doors of your system and your mind as a result shows that you want only total agreement-- which IS the lit-world's way of doing things.)
Connections; or conformists with money; is the chief criterion.
Quality, when one looks at the actual books being produced by the mainstream, is a secondary consideration.
Yeah, I guess I've just made too much noise, have offended too many people. I should return to obscurity and then everything will be fine. If there's logic to that idea, I can't find it!
No, Harland, the system is corrupt, from top to bottom, and needs changing. Re-read my "Reasons to Change" post at the Happy Lit blog. You're an intelligent guy. Instead of seeing you standing up like a puppet for rich people, I'd rather have you on my team.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

p.s. Regarding your anonymity, "Harland."
You're apparently a writer, but you're no Zola or Solzhenitsyn.
Not exactly a profile in courage, are you, if you're afraid of one broke guy stuck in Detroit. (Those literati who've met me, like Neal Pollack, know that in person I'm very laid back and easy to get along with. The Protests have been theater.)
Funny how I don't mind discussing the CIA-- which could crush me like a bug-- or going after all kinds of powerful people with lots of money to hire people.
You're lacking something-- courage, character, or integrity.
I hope not all three!
(Chum, you're anonymous for a reason.)

Anonymous said...

You've just hit the nail on the head, king. Why hasn't the CIA eliminated you? Why hasn't Rick Moody sent minions? Because they don't care. You're not blackballed: I'd guess at most you're the subject of mild eyerolling.

You, on the other hand, harass people - electronically, through the mail, and in person. I work in publishing, but I wouldn't reveal my identity to you for all the tea in China, because judging from your blog, first you'd offer yourself and your work, then you'd say I was afraid of you, and then I'd be added to your list of evil guys, and if a car strikes me down tomorrow I don't want my grieving friends reading your ravings on the internet all because I find no merit in your work and thus won't give you the time of day. You've done this - just from paging through this blog - to countless literary figures before. I bet you've madly Googled "Harland" and "MFA" a dozen times hoping to find this guy just so you can denounce him as a coward.

Meanwhile nobody does a thing to you - so you invent their "crimes." They don't invite you on panels, they don't give you Guggenheims, they don't publish your letters to the editor, they don't let you onstage at events you have nothing to do with. What outrage! After all, you're entitled to lots and lots of attention! You have opinions, and everyone with an opinion ought to be given a pulpit! And these aren't just your opinions, no no! You represent the voice of the people! Who, despite plenty of press, never, ever leave even one comment of praise for your activities!

And, before you decide that I'm trembling in my boots, let me assure you that I'm chuckling, rolling my eyes, and moving on - because I believe great literature comes from everywhere, and that many corners of our culture are drastically underrepresented. But not yours. You've gotten way more attention than you deserve - and you got nothing to show for it.

Harland said...

I'm not interested in naming names, King. I've already told you that. They're not the problem. If you want to insist that the root of all evil is Rick Moody and his Guggenheim money, be my guest. It's not a persuasive argument. I'm often dismayed by the list of Guggenheim and NEA and MacArthur recipients. So's every writer, from the most "establishment" to the most "revolutionary." Same with the National Book Awards and the NBCC and the Mortimer P. Snerd award. So? Writers keep writing, somehow, with or without awards, grants, fellowships, influential friendships. I'm happy to rail against the way the world works. As you point out, George W. Bush, a singularly unqualified individual, has been president for eight years. Matthew McConaughy still gets starring roles in major motion pictures. And Duran Duran had a successful reunion tour. More evidence of the conspiracy?

I don't know anything about Shinder's poetry. I don't like the work of Miranda July. Should I write her publisher and demand that her books be pulped?

I already said that the system was corrupt. I don't know what form your dissent can possibly take other than continuing to write books that are unwanted by the system. Unless you're proposing an actual, armed revolution in which you and your like-minded followers "take over" publishing and instill in it a sense of commitment to the People's Literature. Is that the end toward which your dissent moves? Relocating the capital of publishing from effete, decadent New York to populist Detroit, removing the effete, decadent, eyeglass-wearing intellectuals from publishing and replacing them with representatives of the People? I got news for you, chum. The People's Literature lives! It's written by Robert James Waller and James Patterson and Stephen King and Augusten Burroughs. It's published all the time. Take a look sometime at the People's voice -- exemplified by Amazon reviews -- and what they have to say about your favorite betes noire. They hate them too! They think they're difficult and obscure and boring and just too literary! Meanwhile, they eat up the work of Dave Pelzer, true stories of the Hard Life. Sounds like your plan's already in place.

King said...

Well, let's see. The System is corrupt, but it's really not. People hate my bete noirs-- yet they continue to get substantial backing and lots of press.
A contradiction or two here someplace?
My contention stands. If you have to keep falling back on Stephen King, a genre writer, as "The People's Voice" or one of the best things in literature, you don't have much of a case-- and you're not setting your sights very high. But you know this.
Ah, then we have one of the folks in the publishing world itself weighing in.
She would never touch my work-- nor apparently the work of my less boisterous colleagues-- yet the Susan Nagels and "Gossip Girl" et.al. books have no problem finding a place.
While I'm pointing out the exclusion, the blackballing, don't think by the same token that I'm eager to join your ranks. My goal from the beginning has been to set the foundation for an ALTERNATIVE to your failed system.
And it is a failure, as I've pointed out time and again. Enormous expense-- far dwarfing the expense on literature done by any society in human history.
What's the result? Okay, a few mildly interesting writers like Augusten Burroughs.
Where are the masterpieces-- great works which can move an entire civilization?
That Stephen King IS popular, despite his many limitations, is an example of how hungry the American public is for something-- anything-- which touches them.
But do we really want tales about angry automobiles or psychotic clowns in sewers representing our time and our culture for all eternity?
Is this the best we can do?
Our Publishing Person of course is caught WITHIN the system; infected with the GM Syndrome; caught within a decline so incremental, yet unstoppable, that nobody worries about it. As long as their little corner on the office floor is safe.
My solutions?
I'll be giving them on my Happy Lit blog.
Please stay tuned.

King said...

Re grants. Harland's blindness on this issue is amazing, but predictable, as he's demonstrated it before.
What we have is a situation where taxpayer and tax-sheltered money goes not to struggling artists and writers who actually need it, but in many cases, to the most successful/conglomerate-backed writers in America.
In some cases the writer has to prove his success; i.e., that he doesn't need the funds and attention, in order to receive the money.
That this is strictly legal shows nothing more than how the upperclasses manipulate this system, and this government, for their own gain.
Let's look at Mr. Moody, as you continue defending him, "Harland," like the lapdog you are and have always been.
The most privileged and pampered writers in America need your protection-- against ONE guy in Detroit with a couple blogs.
Have I mentioned Rick Moody too many times the past several years?
I haven't mentioned him enough.
He's a symbol of everything wrong with our current literary culture.
Moody is from the top 0.001% of American society; the privileged of the privileged; raised in a mansion in Greenwich CT, living on Fisher's Island-- the most exclusive enclave for the super-rich. Yet he applied for and accepted scarce grant money intended, originally, by the Guggenheim family, for struggling writers. STRUGGLING writers. Do you get it?
Beyond this, Mr. Moody has sat on countless grants panels himself and awarded money-- including taxpayer money; OUR money, which some of us work very hard for-- to his wealthy buddies.
Mention him too much?
If I attacked this corrupt character every day, ten times a day, on this blog or on all my blogs, it wouldn't be too much.
Rick Moody is an example of everything wrong with America now. He's the literary equivalent of George W. Bush. Better writers have waited in line while Moody got his shot-- shot after shot after shot; well-hyped book after book.
Literature is one of the last playgrounds of the super-rich, along with polo fields, dressage shows, and yacht auctions. It's time to open that insular world up.
Criticize Moody too much?
We should've been at every reading he appeared at, with protest signs; every grants panel sat on or swanky tax shelter foundation party attended. (There have been many.) The aristocrats have had literature in their grasp too long; kept it behind barricaded doors. It's time to break down the doors, crash the party, and release literature to the world.

King said...

p.s. I have to add another note for our snobby and clueless publishing person.
Why do you assume I want to be like you, or one of you?
If I did, wouldn't I being sending my manuscripts around?
Wouldn't I have accepted Bookforum's offer in 2000 to do more reviews for them?
Wouldn't I be playing the game and keeping my mouth shut-- instead of pissing people like you off by speaking the TRUTH about American literature now?
Don't make assumptions about myself based on system writers, please. I'm an entirely different animal.
Mine is a rebellion of words. Curious that such noise can be easier made and accepted in other venues-- like sports-- but not in the field devoted to language and words.
And yes, you'd better hide your identity, if you have no substance, ideas, and credibility with which to back it!

Anonymous said...

You really have to stop bragging about the fact that eight years ago somebody asked you to write a book review.

Harland said...

And the TRUTH about American literature is.............?

(Hint: it's not the truth about American trade publishing, or the grants and fellowships system, or the MFA treadmill, or professorships for established writers, or the big round the clock DINE! DRINKS! DANCE! cocktail party where the undeserving literati sustain their Dolce Vitaesque bacchanal...it might have something to do with books and writing. Which you never seem to talk about. Tell me again what's wrong with Rick Moody, tell me again King! And again! Again! Ah! Oh! Ah!)

King said...

I've made the point many times that the books and writing, despite enormous financial backing, are NOT connecting with the general public to the extent they should be.
What more needs to be said?
(p.s. I did quite a long review of one of the books recently, the Susan Nagel fiasco, which took mucho time and energy. More reviews are upcoming, so please be patient.)

Anonymous said...

Your own writing is connecting with nobody. Obviously you don't have enormous financial backing, but you've made noise, and gotten a lot more press than most mainstream writers. And yet, no fans in the comments section. Photographs of your readings seem like it's basically your friends. Your own organization has shrunk and I shudder to think of your book and zine sales.

So, with a fraction of the exposure of a well-hyped author - a small fraction, but a bonafide fraction - you've managed to snag none of this hungry public you claim is hungry for exactly the kind of literature you're producing. Why is that? Not because they don't know about it - you have quite a web presence. Could it be that they are genuinely unmoved? Could it be that REAL outsiders, who've never heard of Rick Moody and don't care about the literary establishment, also don't want to read somebody who is obsessed with Rick Moody and the literary establishment?