I WAS THINKING about the cronyism involved in NBC bringing Matt Millen on TV as a football analyst the same year he destroyed the Detroit Lions organization-- rewarding him for incompetence. Then I realized this is how the literary world operates as well.
So we have cronymeister Melanie Thernstrom writing a gushy article in the once-credible New York Times about non-poet apparatchik Jason Shinder, who she once dated. I'm sure he was quite a nice guy, as everyone says (though he could only glower at the underground at Miller Hall, during a would-be "Howl" celebration), but to say he finally wrote some semi-competent poetry near the end of his life reveals the established lit-show as the scam it is. To Melanie Thernstrom that's just the way things operate-- being a privileged child of the intellectual establishment herself. (Shinder to her was a striking anomaly because he wasn't born into it.)
It's the same mentality which allowed these people to close ranks in support of Rick Moody-- after he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar giving taxpayer money to his rich buddies, then, like Matt Millen, rewarded for his blunders.
Yes, it's how the game is played. But it's not good for literature and we don't have to respect it or accept it.