Monday, August 06, 2012

Inside or Outside?

Here's another example of puff piece journalism, by Garth Risk Hallberg, in this instance at the most powerful flagship of them all:

What can we say about the review, and where it appears, and so about Bissell and Hallberg themselves? (Or how the review is written?) Are these two writers Insiders or Outsiders? What do you think?

Are they not fully Insiders-- as Inside the literary power system as one can possibly get? Can we speculate that said book wouldn't have been reviewed-- and the review wouldn't have been so positive-- if the book weren't published by McSweeney's? When's the last time a writer or journalist took on the McSweeney's empire? What was the result?

Garth Hallberg of course is sympathetic to Bissell's book out of natural inclination. They're both members of America's intellectual "New Class." Their attitudes are similar, or they wouldn't be where they are. Their viewpoints are acceptable to the literary and media status quo. Hallberg is also at least subliminally aware of how power works in the literary world. He's making his way inside the system. One doesn't rise within the apparatus by questioning it.

We have in literature today not intellectuals, but bureaucrats.

(I invite either Garth Hallberg or Tom Bissell to comment. But you see, they can't. That's not allowed.)

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