Sunday, April 08, 2007

Key Question #2

The crucial question regarding the ULA campaign: Is this nation's literature in need of drastic change?

The ULA argues that the entire industry needs overhaul. Lit's condition is more decrepit than that of the U.S. auto industry.

Market share? What percentage of media noise is literature now generating? What percentage of public interest is it attracting?

Sports coverage has grown over the decades while book review sections are shrinking. The caretakers of literature aren't worried. Because of their positions within institutions they're insulated from failure. They don't see the need for change.

Fifty years ago Hemingway was as famous and recognizable as a movie star. T.S. Eliot sold out stadiums. Dylan Thomas was dying a legend, while the Beats were becoming a nationwide phenomenon, the leading edge of cultural change. Literature didn't dominate, but it competed.

Now it's in a safe overlooked corner speaking mainly to itself. Missing is real excitement-- cause for the general public to notice what's happening.

The ULA argues for change, swift and total change, sweeping aside the caretakers, dynamiting the icons, leaving room for dynamic, truly charismatic writers to take the stage.

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