Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Fastballer

Today marks the major league debut in D.C. of the rookie with a 100-mile an hour fastball. Much excitement has been generated for the sport of baseball.

Where is the young writer with the literary 100-mile an hour fastball?

12 comments:

Harland said...

I don't know, but I'm sort of surprised that you're not writing about how Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are stealing more than their share of the pie while some poor underappreciated sandlot player is making due on a substandard field with beat-up equipment.

King said...

But you see, "Harland," baseball scouts actively search for talent, instead of giving positions on the field to their buds, or to the owner's son.
Yes, yes, maybe the "lit" scouts a la The New Yorker do also. If so, why are the results so dismal?
The bottom line is that the phenom's fastball is putting people in the seats. Is there a writer who can do that for literature? That's my question.

Harland said...

Ah. So Major League Baseball is your example of an ideal meritocratic model.

King said...

No, you idiot, it's an example of the kind of thing literature is competing AGAINST, and not competing very well.
Baseball in fact has been getting its ass kicked by football, which is saavier in its presentation and its promotion. But even baseball can stir excitement now and then.
Your aristocracy wouldn't matter if the writers presented were exciting. I wouldn't have much of an argument. But they're not exciting. Wordiness, my friend, isn't excitement.
You don't seem to realize that the reason I scorn much contemporary lit is because it's not very interesting-- neither the writers, nor their art.
I caused ripples with the ULA on a shoestring. If I had one-one-hundredth of what the book companies have to play with I'd transform the art. No brag, just fact.
YOU have leverage and a platform but you're clueless.

Harland said...

Oh, I see now.

A very boring writer once said that football is "for morons who like pain."

So if everybody's buds and sons were exciting the aristocracy would be OK...? King...?

You caused ripples...on a...shoestring? With metaphors like this, King, you really should be on top.

King said...

Oh, golly gosh. A mixed metaphor. A big mistake according to The Constipated Writer's Rulebook.
Sorry about that.
(American football is right now, in very many ways, a metaphor for America. A clash of brands and businesses. Lit's problem is that it's like football circa 1890-- dominated by the Ivy League. Someone eventually discovered there was a lot of talent in the rest of the country, and chased the Ivys off the field.
Literature, on the other hand, is hopeless.)
Here's a couple quotes from the 5/20 Times article on Clegg:
"--the preppy host who gave suave parties--"
"--making it in a city where everyone seemed richer, Ivy-educated and bred. 'Everybody's godfather was like some famous editor. Or they spent summers in Maine with famous writers.'"
A cozy world. Ending soon.

King said...

(Make that the 5/30 article. Not all typos here are allowed.)

Harland said...

Yes, King.

You know, you're even inconsistent in your own ideology, demanding that American readers be force-fed a prescriptive diet of social realism, or "punk," or whatever the phrase is that you're favoring these days, and then defending an obfuscatory use of language that would make even the lamest romantic poet blush. To justify it as a flouting of a set of overly restrictive "rules" that far more timorous and conservative writers tremble at is simply infantile.

King said...

No, you're clueless, my man.
The word "obfuscatory" is obfuscatory.
"Timorous" isn't far behind.
Great writers in the English language like Orwell and Churchill recommended the use of good old Anglo-Saxon words understood by all.
On the other hand, does anyone reading this blog NOT understand what I was saying with my mixed metaphor?
***********************
Your entire way of arguing is dishonest.
For instance, you're still pushing a false narrative regarding myself.
I'm not "demanding that American readers be force-fed a prescrptive diet" of anything. What I've been doing is pointing out how bland and tasteless the American literary diet in fact is, with suggestions for adding a few new tastes to the menu. "Punk" or "social realism" merely a couple of them.
American literature should be a smorgasboard.
All you're doing is proving that your entire mode of thought is as dishonest as the name you use here.

Harland said...

Both words, whatever their roots, have been part of the language since Middle English. I guess you and George and Winston should get over the foreign contamination of the English language. Really quite parochial. Nativist, too. But then, I've already pointed out that you think the dictionary is yet another sinister part of the "system."

People might understand what you're trying to say, but that doesn't excuse saying it badly, or sloppily. And, at any rate, the grand-sounding idea of shoestring-funded ripples serves to obscure the fact that the ULA did nothing to upend the literary establishment. Funding doesn't have much to do with anything. Despite your fond fantasies, most writers do their work on a similar "shoestring."

American literature is a smorgasbord. I'm not the one devoting all my time to "proving" the inadequacy of the New Yorker Twenty, or whatever they're called. Can't help it if you take the judgment of the New Yorker as somehow indicative of the state of the art of fiction.

Unlike you, I actually talk to real writers frequently. I don't think anybody's quite as ready to dismiss each and every writer who makes a splash as you are, but most writers are aware of the disproportionate acclaim received by a tiny fraction of writers. The difference is they -- we -- are too busy, writing mostly, and raising children, and paying bills, and washing dishes, and all that shit, to afford the sort of equally disproportionate reaction that you indulge in.

Harland said...

Is "smorgasbord" a good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon word?

King said...

Well, you're not too busy to keep from posting here, are you?
If we knew your background, we might discover that you're busy doing other things involving literature. Thanks to your ongoing dishonesty, we have no way of knowing.
I think it's perfectly legitimate to address the current New Yorker issue. The magazine is the highest profile outlet presenting new short fiction. As short fiction is my current focus, where else would I look for the current accepted standard? How else do I know what I'm competing against? The New Yorker is as good a barometer as any.
Since you won't comment on the stories yourself, I take it you're not impressed with them.
In these exchanges you've been accepting many of my points.
Chiefly, the point that current lit isn't good enough.
It's a reason to search for alternatives. Granted, Nowlan was a bridge too far, at this point in time, as I've said. But I'm no longer active in the ULA anyway.
Regarding which: My role in the outfit wasn't as a writer, but a promoter. That's what my "shoestring" remark referred to. We gained a bit of attention for a few years. No, we didn't upend the literary establishment-- only shook them up a bit. Our task was improbable, especially given the active hostility of our opponents, who have no tolerance for dissent.
The behavior of the B.B.C. (Billionaire Boys Club), of which you may or may not be a member, bordered on uncompetitive business practices, IMHO. We may never know for sure.
It's clear by what you post here that you helped circulate a false narrative about the ULA and myself. We were in no position to "demand," because we had no power whatsoever. The only leverage we had was our voices. We tried to use this. This disturbed some ultra-privileged folks. They're still disturbed, apparently, and so your ongoing appearances here.
Which do nothing so much as prove the duplicity and backstage way of operating of the literary establishment. Operate honestly, in the open?
You wouldn't know how.