THE ARROGANCE OF LITERARY POWER
McSweeneys Books shouldn’t have included the smear essay against the Underground Literary Alliance in Tom Bissell’s Magic Hours. What was the point? Bissell wasn’t attacking and slurring the powerful, but the powerless—an organization which was already broken; many of whose writers are broken. This enabled various literary people in outlets as diverse as the New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Los Angeles Times, and Guernica magazine to take ill-informed shots at the ULA and its writers. That they did so was revealing—showing that the liberal pose of these people is just that: a pose. McSweeneys included.
The truth of the matter is that McSweeneys IS the One Percent. Dave Eggers IS the One Percent. Vendela Vida IS the One Percent. Many of their good friends, Rick Moody, Daniel Handler, and many others, ARE the One Percent. These are writers of privilege—in some cases, extreme privilege—who are out of touch with the struggles of the bulk of the American populace. No doubt many of them this moment are vacationing at their summer resorts.
What did they attack in the Underground Literary Alliance—in 2003 and again in 2012? They attacked the ONLY American writers group which has never kowtowed to the One Percent, is not dominated or owned or paid by the One Percent, has no connections whatsoever to the One Percent. An organization which was founded to stand up for the underdog, against power. You’d have a hard time saying these things about any other writers group—including the most “liberal” of them, PEN among them, which in reality are little more than playthings for the very One Percent they pretend to stand against. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.
History will judge the truth of the matter.