Tuesday, August 21, 2012

To the Public Editor, New York Times

(The text of an email letter I sent yesterday.)

To the Public Editor, New York Times.
Here's one for you. In a review in the Sunday Book Review on May 4th of this year, Garth Risk Hallberg labeled the writers of the currently inactive Underground Literary Alliance as "unpublishable." I've sent Mr. Hallberg three emails asking him to explain exactly why he considers us-- all of us (by association every writer who was in the outfit)-- to be unpublishable. It strikes me as a blanket slur. I have not received a response.

The ULA was an organization that I in particular am associated with. As I explain in a post at a blog, here--


I don't consider myself to be a bad writer. In fact I have enough evidence and credits to show I'm not a bad writer. Many former ULA writers could say the same. If we're "unpublishable," it's for reasons other than the quality of our writing.

Unfortunately, that's not the impression given by Hallberg's casual use of the slur, as if it were an accepted fact. This is how readers will take it. Because the New York Times Book Review is read by nearly everyone in the book business, is hugely influential in the literary world, if we weren't "unpublishable" before the review, we certainly are now.

Have we been damaged? I think so. The ULA Press is still selling books by several of the ULA's writers. I myself  am trying to sell four ebooks of my writing. Perpetuating a false stereotype, as Hallberg has done, is detrimental to that endeavor.

We ourselves in the ULA always operated with total transparency. We never failed to document and justify our criticisms of the literary system. We made ourselves open to questions and discussion, including in person. Would that our critics had ever done likewise!

I believe that the minimum we're required from the New York Times is a public retraction and apology. Lacking that, then a reasoned justification for the slur-- and the opportunity to respond to it.

I look forward to hearing from someone at the Times.

Thank you for your time.


Karl Wenclas

(I received a quick response from someone there, who promised to forward my letter to the Book Review editor. Which, I guess, is like having a serial killer adjudicate his own case. But let's see what happens.)

No comments: