MOST DISAPPOINTING about the gushy coverage of Tom Bissell’s book Magic Hours, and his hatchet-job essay on the Underground Literary Alliance, is that some of the writers and journalists lauding it should be on our side. Katie Ryder of Guernica Daily, for instance, was active with Occupy Wall Street. One would think she’d be sympathetic toward a group of activist writers.
Would Katie Ryder allow the Occupy movement to be similarly smeared? Would she stand silent to it linked to the worst crimes of the Bolsheviks? To claims that OWS would lead to “lots and lots of tombstones”? To assertions that those at the bottom of society, absolutely powerless, are “authoritarian” merely for raising their voices?
We in the ULA were doing Occupy ten years before Occupy. In one of our more notorious actions, at Housing Works in Manhattan in 2003, we asked for a discussion of the looming invasion of Iraq—and were asked to leave. Days from a national mistake—and the trendy elite writers were reading cutesy pieces about candy bars and a tree! They were outraged that we sought to bring the real world into literature and their reading.
If Katie Ryder had been there, what side would she have been on?
Add to this the fact that we were the only lit group to take on the all-powerful “New White Guys” millionaire boys club of Franzen, Moody, Eggers and Company—whose corruption the ULA had been exposing and which Bissell’s essay was intended to protect and cover-up, as will be shown.
An activist writer like Ryder should celebrate the ULA—not cooperate in the celebration of our smearing!