The literary establishment is in panic, worried, because of affordable ebooks, that their tottery and moldy empire will come crashing down. Yesterday saw a shaky editorial in the New York Times from lit writer Ann Patchett complaining that brick-and-mortar bookstores are in trouble. She’s frantic that the Pulitzer board awarded no Fiction prize this year. Patchett said that the Department of Justice, by coming out against price-rigging, “has decided to be Amazon’s bodyguard.”
In the same issue, in a different piece, New Republic honcho Leon Wieseltier is quoted on a similar theme: “People who know how to publish books are in danger of being put out of business by people who think they do but don’t.” I guess he can’t see the obvious contradiction in his statement (apart from the fact it’s not true). If publishers are going out of business, then they don’t really know how to publish books—at least not in the current environment.
For some writers, like myself, the ebook revolution spearheaded by Amazon and Barnes and Noble is a godsend. Our current great literary system has designated me blacklisted, a pariah, untouchable, however you wish to term it. No one in the entire system from writers to editors to agents to journalists will allow themselves any contact with me. Whistle blowers like myself are banished to the far reaches of the literary universe. In exile. But now, even if few people know about them or buy them, I’m at least able to get some of my writing via ebooks out there, available for public view. It allows me to prove that I can in fact write. I’ll go further and say that my newest fusion novel, The Tower, is competitive with anything the conglomerates produce. It’s also that rare animal, pop and literature both.
Apparatchiks like Ann Patchett and Leon Wieseltier believe the current moldy system is wonderful, because for those inside the system it is. Neither of them cares two cents worth about corruption within their realm, or what happens to writers who don’t conform. They’ve been trying to shove their stale conception of literary art, centered around the so-called perfect sentence and nothing else—bureaucratic lit—down the public’s throat, through writers like David Foster Wallace, for decades, but the public refuses to swallow it.
It’s truly funny that the great success the big publishers are having at the moment has nothing to do with “literary” fiction. Instead, fed-up readers desperate for readability and plot—and no longer offered that by mainstream novelists—have found it in the obscure or scorned categories of fantasy, romance, and Young Adult. The publishers’ success has come through publishing’s back door, and has been despite the guidance of mandarins. The total dominance of hack authors like George R. Martin highlights the utter bankruptcy of literary fiction. No Pulitzer award? Never has the granting of no award been more fitting.