AN INTERESTING POINT made by Wred Fright in my Three Question interview of him concerns the perils of stepping too far outside the box when promoting a literary product.
The ULA (Underground Literary Alliance), of which we're both past members, went farther in its promotion than any lit group ever has. Those raised inside a preppy bubble-- like the Eggers crowd-- were completely thrown. (Refer once again to the Tom Bissell Believer article.) Yet what the ULA did was mere literary theater-- done in the great American carny tradition from Barnum to Screaming Jay Hawkins.
The post below this one is hyperbolic-- obviously so. Hyperbole wrapped around a core of truth. Literary people have so disdained the creation of entertainment for so long they've lost all notion of how to do so. They can't recognize a story which is intentionally melodramatic, nor criticism which is purposely provocative. Should we all be super-serious Sven Birkerts and James Wood standing self-importantly behind Harvard lecterns destroying through sheer blathering dullness the minds of their students?
(The Eggers era, by the way, will someday be seen as a phenomenon of WASP chic. If you've seen one of their self-congratulatory events you'll know what I'm talking about. The Dave's well-advertised excursions into the Third World, or Third World America, pith helmet and compass, are part of this. I think The Believer will be used as a kind of zoo exhibit of a particular insular American cultural mindset.)