Friday, April 27, 2007

They Don't Get It

Those stray commentators allowed to write about the ULA make much of the fact that we're an alternative to the mainstream yet seek media attention.

There's no contradiction in this-- it's fully part of a DIY "Do-It-Yourself" philosophy. Unlike the conglomerates, we have no advertising budget. "Free" advertising through publicity is the only way we can compete. (Marketing 101.) With new books out from us, receiving attention for them has gained more urgency-- which is why it's disconcerting when we're completely shut out by narrow-minded decisionmakers working for powerful media (who then have the gall to complain about "book burning" because their book review sections are shrinking).

(Some of these people even cry loudly about the "free market" while never having operated freely, as independent agents, in the lit business in their entire lives. All they know really is monopoly-- the intellectual monopoly, the single-minded groupthink-- which dominates their realm.)

More misconceptions exist about the ULA's animus toward Mr. Hiram F. Moody III-- when it's easily explained by our DIY status as undergrounders without financial resources.

Financial resources are very scarce in the literary business-- which is why we protested Moody's applying for, and receiving, a $35,000 Guggenheim grant at the same time he was living on Fisher's Island with the Firestones and Duponts, America's most exclusive enclave for the superwealthy. He was, and is, an author having no difficulty in getting his books published and promoted by huge book companies. Yet $35,000, for writers LIKE us (we didn't apply ourselves) is a gigantic amount. We and other undergrounders are competing on a literal shoestring. Why, give us 35 thou and then see what we can achieve! But that's not how this society operates.

Moody, as I've explained too many times, not only received tax-sheltered money, he has sat on grants panels and given away taxpayer money to his well-off buddies. It's why we've called Rick Moody "The Poster Boy of Literary Corruption."

Now the National Book Critics Circle has made this same corrupt and greedy individual their poster boy for the fight to save newspaper book review pages. What does this say about themselves?

Moody has suffered not one iota from his misdeeds. He remains at the center of the literary machine; his mediocre books published to lavish attention and acclaim, backed by large amounts of money. Meanwhile the whistleblowers of the Underground Literary Alliance are literary pariahs. Much of the literary world treats us as nonpersons. We're blacklisted far and wide.

Such is the bizarro universe of American literature today.

No comments: