Friday, June 29, 2007

ULA Unpredictability

The actions of the Underground Literary Alliance are generally incomprehensible to the literary "mainstream," because we don't play by the accepted rules of the game. We're not out for quick self-aggrandisement.

We, in fact, offer new thinking-- the kind of thinking we believe the public would want from a renewed literature. And so, the most important block in our foundation is our group's integrity, which we will not compromise for illusory opportunities of ephemeral compromise or gain. We're building a strong foundation, planting our flag to stay. As the establishment's tower of corruption is misshapen and tottering, our structure will be democratic, aligned, and aesthetically and ethically harmonious. We've thrown off the old "standards" which have been guidelines for artistic failure. We're experiencing the breathtaking challenge of making a new beginning.

Literature must be the greatest aspect of a society-- the expression of a culture's voice and also the one place people can go to when looking for honesty, character, and truth-telling. Writers should not be manufactured automatons. We see the role of poet and writer in a culture as more relevant, more meaningful, more necessary, beyond occupying a stultifying and predictable niche as paid mercenary for the interests of conformity, like too many writers today.

Moved Movie Serial

The Movie Serial I've been presenting here is being moved to another blog, "Literary Mystery," already linked to this site. The Serial's new title is being tentatively changed to "Plutocracy USA," which sounds like the title for a movie. Readers will have an opportunity to see the story again from the beginning.

Recall where we left the story? The excitement and revelations from the story are only beginning.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Greatest Rock N' Roll Band?

A strong case can be made. They were the ultimate 60's garage band, competing straight up with legendary proto-punk groups like The Wailers and The Kingsmen. Their bluesy lead singer was Jagger before Jagger. Unbeatable at live performance, they finally broke big in 1965 when they began a string of monster hits. Steven Van Zandt counts 1966 as the greatest rock year. In that year, no one rocked harder than this band. Yet in that same year of 1966 they also charted the first "jam band" style song,a precursor to the music of the Grateful Dead.

For all their success, for all their credibility which came before it, this band is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is criminal.

Who am I speaking about?

Paul Revere and the Raiders were the greatest garage band. Formed in 1958, they gained much experience playing gigs, in an area of awesome rock bands, the Northwest, in their formative years. In live performance, strutting about the stage in unison to songs like "Steppin Out," their antics causing them to be likened to the Marx Brothers; wearing crazy Revolutionary-era costumes; they've seldom been matched. (Prince's ruffled stage look was a throwback to the Raiders.)

Their recordings of "Just Like Me,' "Kicks," and "Hungry" are at the heights of pure rock n' roll.

How can one call the Rolling Stones "The World's Greatest Rock n' Roll Band" when an act from their own time was better?

Why are the tepid or connected likes of James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and Billy Joel-- many parts folk, country, or saloon singer but only incidentally rockers-- in the Rock Hall when the band which defined rock during its most glorious period is not?

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Small Press Under Attack

Why the sudden harassment by the postal service over Media Mail?
I was interrogated today while sending out some review material.
First, all over the post office were signs reminding you-- if you didn't already know (some of them red signs), that Media Mail Is Subject to Inspection.
Then, the clerk assured me that the envelopes I was sending would be inspected. Books were okay, but "no written material" is allowed.
The context to this is that two recent ULA mailings have not showed up at their destinations.

Note that Perseus Book Group was involved in the recent distro problems which have forced several independent magazines out of business. This is the same Perseus noted in my "ULA Monday Report" last fall as joining in the takeover of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, supposed advocate of the small press.

Other Big Money entities like the Murdoch Group-- already given special treatment by organizations like the National Book Critics Circle, grow more powerful. Murdoch, of course, appears ready to buy out the Dow Jones publications, including Barron's and the Wall Street Journal.

The ULA has some immunity to these actions, as we can simply burrow further underground-- or take our message straight to the people themselves, though it becomes more difficult to do so.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Plutocracy USA

Gentry writers debate what kind of tip to leave overworked waiters and waitresses. Underground writers ARE those waiters and waitresses.

Rumor is that at the Bloomberg company, 10% of the work force is fired each year to maintain a state of employee subservience and fear.

Now we hear that billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who bought for himself the mayoralty of New York City, is now looking to buy the political world's biggest job.

This is like the last days of the Roman Republic, when plutocrats named Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar bought political and military power.

The process, incidentally, is happening throughout the lit world also. New Money billionaires move into entities like the Poetry Foundation and some small press organizations, proclaiming themselves, ridiculously enough, "populists," while Old Money icons living in enclaves like Fisher's Island fight to hang on to their own substantial slice of the literary plutocracy pie.

Meanwhile, Presidential candidate John Edwards gives highly-paid speeches in front of affluent crowds during which he bemoans the widening gap between rich and poor in this society. Edwards is worth $30 million. He must be speaking about the gap between Michael Bloomberg and himself.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The ULA Is the Alternative

(Pssst: The ULA Is the Alternative.)


Darn! Every time I plan to cut loose from the ULA (Underground Literary Alliance) to return to a life of hanging out in divey bars (preferably near red light zones), the ULA knocks on my mental consciousness and bellows, "I'M STILL HERE!"

Assessing the literary map, I realize that the ULA is stronger than ever. Better positioned than before.

What? Why? How in the hell did this happen?

Despite our ineptitude-- or because of it, and the laws of the universe in which strength is turned into weakness, and weakness into strength-- WE'VE survived the washout. We've been sitting back with our brews watching so many other better financed small press projects be bought out or go under. Even the McSweeney's trust funders are in some trouble, auctioning off their jewels and yachts on E-bay and such.

Right now, WE'RE the Alternative in the literary world.

The Alternative to the monied PENs BEAs NBAs and their NBCC flunkies.

The Alternative to status quo More-of-the-Same lit bloggers. (Including gatekeepers pretending not to be gatekeepers.)

While everyone else stumbles-- gentrified newspaper book reviewers across the land crying, "Please rescue us!"-- the ULA is thriving. (With new projects in the planning stage, yet to announce.) Somehow, we've done a few things right. The outlook is rosy. The new ULA book tour, which will spotlight the ULA's unbeatable voices, and outrageous new books, is only the first step of many exciting happenings.

Forget the obvious Palooka-Dishwasher-Bolano mock-ULA rip-offs.

Face it: If you want a real alternative in the literary world you have to come to us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unstoppable Mo


Sometimes I feel like an inventor who helped design and put a project together, then to watch the project move off on its own-- often in its own direction.

The ULA can't be stopped despite all its enemies and all the sometimes best efforts of characters like myself who have care of it.

As Example: Witness the big Wred Fright and Crazy Carl Robinson book tour, WHICH WILL arrive in Philadelphia Wednesday July 18th 7 p.m. at Germ Books at 2005 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. The excitement of this tour puts the fledgling ULA Press at the forefront of small press happenings in this nation.

The ULA Lives! One can't ignore reality. The building ULA "New Wave" can't be denied. Join the Excitement-- Catch the Wave of Today's New Literature.

(More Info at:,,


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The End of History?

I watched on PBS last night an excellent show, hosted by Simon Schama, about artists Van Gogh and Picasso.

Noteworthy to me was the always-present sense of excitement of hearing about how these two giants changed their art form. Change. Change! There was from them no acceptance of the status quo.

American literature today, despite a few technical changes, like the rise of the Internet, is stuck in limbo. Its advocates are immoveable. The present which is already the past is being swept away, but the mandarins fight rear guard actions, trying to save what can't be saved. The art of the book within the larger culture is in retreat-- on the book stage a few chairs are rearranged, and not many at that.

Literature today is hardened in concrete. Editors, critics, and writers believe the history of literature is over. Real change is anathema to them; it has to be shut out. They close their eyes and stop up their ears. Instead, established lit folk wrap their arms around last underground rebels like Bukowski and Ginsberg, without for one minute considering the underground NOW. Their actions are self-serving and always conditional.

Postmodern literature especially is an expression of the Cult of the Lie-- a last residue of the worst aspects, usually totalitarian, of the past century.

(From my perspective, literature TODAY is totalitarian, as it seeks to impose a 99.9% agreement standard upon writers. Contrary voices are allowed as long as they don't say anything contrary. "Can't we all just get along?" It's an attitude guaranteed to stop change and to leave a tottering status quo in place.)

I've discussed on other blogs the artist's search for truth. Those who read my posts don't have a clue what I'm talking about. The truth? What's that? For them, the truth is conditional. What they say or believe is based upon matters of expediency.

The contradiction of today's writing world is that the structure itself is rigidly in place. It's a large voluminous building made of concrete. The writers inside do as they're told. They have no internal standards; have been tested by life too seldom to have gained them. They can only watch flashing lights on a board instructing them how to behave; which pack of lies to follow.

The underground writer, on the other hand, exists outside the institution, with no guides to follow but his own sense and the passed-down model of great ancestors. To survive, in that world of uncontrolled nature, such writers need backbone; a code. Free-thinking-- truly free thinking-- they're able to see the concrete dome as it is. They're able to think for themselves and can think truly new ideas-- ideas grounded in the reality of experience and life.

From the voices trapped inside the concrete building are heard feeble reactions against authenticity and knowledge. They glorify the fake because fakery is all they have-- all they've been allowed to acquire.

Whatever I have to say is wasted on them. I'll search the broader world for those who can hear the message of DIY, leaving the babble of voices inside the rotting concrete structure behind.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Independent Press?

THOSE manning this culture's institutions of literature, as at the National Book Critics Circle, while demonstrating loyalty and obedience to the major book conglomerates, on a regular basis, also make much of their devotion to the independent press.

But how independent is it? There seems to be a standard of agreement to be met. Small presses which are truly independent, like the ones the ULA has kicked off, are completely shut out.

Some of us believe that it's necessary for a society to have, somewhere, a remainder of independent voices-- voices truly independent, shockingly independent, nonconformist and disobedient, questioning all doctrine left or right; upsetting voices looking to unsettle and upend the status quo apple cart in any way possible. Contrary ideas which are evidence of independent thought.

Such voices were once what this nation was about.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reading America

THE HIGH PRIESTS of the literary establishment are making things easy for the Underground Literary Alliance. They're abdicating.

They represent a tiny sliver of the American people and now are preparing to leave the country altogether, presumably for some hovering NBCC-PEN space station from which they can direct their polyglot "Reading the World" campaign.

After all, why not? For them it makes perfect sense. Due to their cluelessness and their ineptitude they've lost the American public, have retreated to tax-shelter foundational fortresses on their money-fortress island of Manhattan, their last bastion last refuge like an enclosed quarantined island of intellectual insanity. WHY NOT? As I write this the NBCC-PEN-BEA-N&1-B.S.'ing space colonizing Aristocrats are making plans to depart the country. Their Louis Vuitton bags are packed. In their minds they've already left. Never fear! They announce to us over crackly outerspace intercoms they will continue to direct operations from on high, for the good of all, for our benefit, from their well-stocked spaceship.

Meanwhile down here on Earth the ULA has picked up the dropped thread of American literature. Remember that term? It once stood for something that was pretty great. Once long, long ago. We're pioneers renewing the word. We're the sound of the people of the land the earth the towns farms and streets of this nation. We're publishing books of great new voices. To experience the real writers of Today you have to read them.

The American public now belongs to us. If present avenues of announcing this are blocked by the Overdogs of past culture and their brainwashed bought-off Janissaries, we'll create our own.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Celebration of Mediocrity

FRANCINE PROSE is an apt choice as PEN boss, major representative of establishment lit, because as a writer and a thinker she's a mediocrity.

Like so many standard-issue writers, Prose is to literature as Starbucks is to coffeeshops. While there you're guaranteed a predictable experience. You will not be disappointed, outraged, or surprised. You'll receive comfortable drinks in a comfortable setting surrounded by comfortable music and cd's.

Is there anything memorable about any Francine Prose essay, story, or book you've ever read? Anything striking?

What odds would be given if Francine Prose were ever unsafe, un-bourgeois enough to publicly debate someone like me? Ten-to-one against her? 100 to 1? The prospect is evidence of her true ability.

Likewise, newspaper book review sections today are dying because they're Celebrations of Mediocrity.

What distinguishes the ULA from the rest of the literary world is that we risk everything. We're not afraid to irritate people. Our writing is sometimes very bad and other times so good as to be genius (see Walsh, Nowlan, Never is it mediocre. We're not playing it safe. Our disorderly spectrum of gonzo noise is far broader than the narrow acceptable parameters of the orderly mainstream-- which means that if great charismatic writers are ever able to be discovered again it will be by the ULA.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Scandal of PEN

PEN is the most elitist literary organization in the United States. Its membership is determined by connections and money.

The PEN organization is a tax shelter, a refuge for the money of rich people. As with so many elite "non-profit" tax shelters, its monetary awards go more likely to trust fund writers they know than to writers in true need. I sometimes think arts foundations exist solely to further enrich the most privileged members of society. (Miranda July is a typical case.)

PEN in New York is most known for throwing swanky, very exclusive black-tie parties.

PEN's mission ostensibly is to support "freedom of expression" and defend "writers under siege." They ignore, of course, writers under siege in their own country. The great economic upheavals of the last 25 years they've willfully never seen. Once-great industrial centers like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit have been devastated; hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed. The small family farm in the Midwest has largely vanished as part of the rise of conglomerate monopoly. NOWHERE have these stories been covered by the official literary scene.

The PEN aristocrats and their like are too busy "Reading the World" to bother reading their own country. They view that world through the prism of insane hypocrisy.

After all, these privileged conglomerate-backed writers are the beneficiaries and soldiers of the same monopolistic global economy that created and sustains the dynamic of First World and Third; a world of Overdogs and dependency. It's a trick game where wealth is shoveled into the back door of the PEN building (metaphorically speaking) so the aristocrats can parade out the pristine front entrance in gowns and black tie to proclaim to the world of impoverished masses, "We're here to help you people!"

Bono or Springsteen announcing their concern from hilltop mansion gates.

There are two PENs in the U.S. today. Last fall I researched the west coast version for a possible essay. I looked at the monetary awards for "Emerging Voices." I discovered that most go not to individuals in need, but to highly educated, fairly successful people.

If not need, then what are the criteria?

Simply: ethnicity. Race. It's the height of racism to set up a relationship of designated inferiority so the literary aristocrat can pose as benefactor (with tax-sheltered money) from an assumed position of superiority. Oh, but diversity. Diversity! The same diversity as including upper-class writers from India in your collections of American upper class writers, a racist game to give the false impression of artistic democracy.

The PEN organization is a large subject worthy of our scrutiny. Who's doing it? I'm too busy trying to economically survive to have the time. Are the 700 great critics of National Book Critics Circle conducting the investigation?

In no way. Instead, on their site they post PEN organization press releases. The National Book Critics Circle is not a journalistic entity. You'll find not a shred of investigative journalism about today's literary scene. Neither will you find in this nation's newspaper book review sections one spark of literary investigation either. Instead, you'll be hit with a never-ending series of lit-establishment press releases.

This nation's established book magazines also are little more than glorified fan magazines, with the bovine acceptance of p.r. that you more usually find about teenage pop music idols. It's a sign of official American literature's utter bankruptcy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

We're Better

The irony, or maybe the point, about our disputes with Establishment Literature and their lapdogs is that our books are better than theirs. Our writers are better across the board, at fiction, poetry, performance, literary journalism (nonexistent in their world) and criticism.

They know this, and so the big conglomerates are trying to co-opt us, but still falling short.

Even Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives, given feature coverage TWICE in the leading local paper by the Janissaries of Empire, isn't as good. It's too "literary," not gonzo enough to qualify as real underground.

Check out the products of the ULA's Cast of Characters, latest by well-named Crazy Carl Robinson, at, key part of the Resistance to Status Quo Rule.

p.s. Our beef with the National Book Critics Circle is that they pose as neutral parties in the realm of literature-- when in truth they're not neutral at all, as shown by denying any coverage to our books at the same time they embrace the most ruthless of monopolistic empires. They hold the power-- yet feel under siege by the outcry from the literary barricades. They shut out alternative voices-- voices from the streets-- yet from their aristocratic castles brand those voices as intolerant. Proof of their Orwellian mindset. Yes, we're intolerant of falsity and phoniness, corruption and inertia. We're out to save literature.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Serial: Chapter Ten


As the Man in the Black Hat speeds in a fast elevator from a high floor down to his important meeting with Boss Eggers, he takes a cellphone from his pocket and touches a button with a red X on it. A display on the cellphone reads in sharp red letters, "DESTROY THE ULA."

This message is transmitted to Imperial offices throughout the country.

Literature Police Sergeant John Freeman at Literature Police headquarters smirks happily as he reads the incoming message on his computer screen: "DESTROY THE ULA."

Trooper Skurnick at a desk nearby begins to say, "I know we're not supposed to pay anymore attention to them, but--" She's cut off with a glance from Freeman, whose eyes point her to her own screen with its own message, "DESTROY THE ULA."

In a newspaper building in Philadelphia, a short man with curly black hair rearranges a stack of papers on his desk as his computer begins to beep. The man looks like a Roman and thinks of himself the same way. Last January he'd spotlighted a ULA-like book with a ULA-looking cover in the newspaper's "Spring Books" section. Unironically, he'd written about the book, "about two renegade leaders of an underground literary movement"-- knowing well his city harbors the most infamous of all underground literary movements, which he'd helped his paper to ignore the past several years; the capper being a major article about one of the city's least talented poets which appeared the same day as one of the ULA's readings. Glorious!

The incessant beeping disturbs the Roman's reveries of literary Empire, then he gloats as he reads on the screen, "DESTROY THE ULA."

In another office, Michael Signorelli, dressed in a gray Star Wars uniform marking him as a drone, also reads the command and prepares to comply. "DESTROY THE ULA."

Across the Empire the message is sent and read, giving satisfaction to guardians of literary privilege only too eager to enforce conformity and shut out the forces of dissent and change. They feel swift encouragement. In their fears of literature's failure they have a target which can be named only secretly-- the target has now been named to them and they feed on the information: "DESTROY THE ULA!"

A Reminder

--that the current ULA Monday Report is by me:
"DIY?: THE MIRANDA JULY STORY." It's a glimpse at some of the wiring within the box of established literature today-- a quick look under the hood of the vehicle.



WE'VE SEEN that the literary establishment is hostile to change.

WE'VE EXPERIENCED their censoring.

WE'VE NOTICED that the loudest of their members are the most reactionary.

Why follow the Underground Literary Alliance?

The question is, Why follow the apostles of sameness?

Does anyone really, REALLY believe Francine Prose and John Leonard are the future of literature? Tired; blathering; insulated?

The ULA versus Literature?

No way. The ULA is the AUTHENTIC literature of our time-- ourselves and others like us.

The Status Quo is frightened. It's moribund. It's fossilized. It's closed to new ideas. It has cut itself off from more representative writers and from its own society. Increasingly it stands for and defends a tiny and exclusive-minded minority in this nation. 90% of this country is outside the view of its patrician eyes.

The ULA is the alternative and the answer. The voice of dissent in literature today. We speak from and to all people in this society. No eighty-five dollar-plus admission fees. Our writers are better. Our message is stronger. The literary establishment knows this, which is why it now brings forth various riffs on co-optation; weak reactions to the fact of the ULA. Sure, we're loud and contentious. We're dynamic. We're Xtreme sports of the literary variety. The NBCC crowd and their like are major league baseball.

We can get our books out only through cracks in monolithic conformity. Make an effort to find them. It'll be worth the effort. You'll be participating in an act of Literary Rebellion. Our books vibrate with excitement; the necessary voice of necessary change in its dawning stages.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Serial: Chapter Nine

(Continuation of "The Meeting.")

The glowing holographic image of George Plimpton, in a darkened room inside a towering black skyscraper, explains the literary galaxy to the Man in the Black Hat.

"Look!" the Plimpton-image cries out in a sudden thundering voice. "There! The home planet; center of our galaxy."

His long, tanned finger is pointing at New York City.

"The largest planet. The center of literary Empire; home of the giant book companies, and scores of glossy magazines produced here to be sent out daily to other parts of the realm. Every day starships depart on missions to far-flung corners of the near-Universe, to reinforce, spread, and strengthen Imperial ideas."

His finger wanders to a much smaller light on the map, marked "Iowa."

"This is one of our colonies. A model base. Our goal has been to establish a network of outposts completely loyal to Imperial literary rule. They're manned by MFA-trained literary soldiers. The MFA programs, modeled on the successful one at Iowa, recruit-- if not the best-- at least the most cooperative and pliable of local writing talent. A typical example was Ray Carver. Beaten-down working-class man! His writing expressed the poverty and futility of his life-- yet never once did he show anger at, or knowledge about, the civilization itself. His writing said, 'This is the natural course of events. The caste system is immutable. Accept it!'"

Plimpton smiles wryly, proudly, for the small part he played in the writer's development.

"No Dreisers. No Jack Londons. No John Steinbecks. No! Ray Carver! That became the model. We multiply our lobotomized Ray Carvers and our patrician John Updikes throughout the galaxy. Wherever they go, they inhabit the available literary space. They monopolize media coverage and arts funding. Local writers have the option to join the system or vanish into obscurity. Many underground poets desiring to 'just write' are only too happy to comply, with scarcely a quibble of protest, but with instead: apathy.

"The MFAers are our missionaries-- our Starbucks employees, if you will-- opening the way for succeeding layers of conglomerate book companies and big-money foundations; ultimately, for us. For literary Empire."

The Plimpton holograph leisurely paces about.

"But you know this. That you're here; that you've questioned this oracle that I've become, from the past, speaking to you in the future, means that all is not completely well with the literary Machine which has controlled the art form for over five decades. What could be the problem?

"The radicals of the ULA? Those upstarts? I rather assume that measures were taken to destroy them. They are the Empire's most dangerous enemies. If they have not been destroyed, you've already failed. The longer they exist, in any condition, the greater their threat. Not a single voice of authentic rebellion to the Machine can remain. For them, survival is victory.

"Who else? 'Boss Eggers'? At the time I'm recording this, he's in the process of making a fundamental mistake, by moving his base of operations from the home planet. He prefers to stay here," (the finger lands on the San Francisco Bay area) "at the other end of the galaxy where he can rule as omnipotent warlord. The representatives of his he's left behind are weak. Meanwhile, a new organization arises on the home planet as I speak, with the rather cryptic and even silly title of N+1. Or something like that. Not a compelling name. Flawed from the beginning, I'd rather think. BUT, they've been trained in the Empire's best academies. They understand the prime importance of this location. They have a network of support drawn from intellectual movements of previous generations. Their leader, born in another galaxy, represents fresh blood which could be dangerous. They seem in themselves highly intelligent, perhaps more so than any potentials rivals.

"Where are their loyalties? Do you know? Do they understand the importance of our Legacy? Will they maintain the essential foundation? What do they believe? That's for you to discover. Absorbed or destroyed: the only choices.

"In the meantime, I presume The Paris Review is alive and well for use as our Flagship. A little dusty, perhaps, but with still-powerful engines. I know you'll maintain a ready crew. I've spoken long enough. I believe it's time for a nap! I bid you. . . ."

The image begins flickering, then quickly fades out. The soundless room resumes its blanket of darkness. The Man in the Black Hat hears only the flow of air-conditioning. He glances at his luminous watch. An hour has passed. It's time for the meeting.


(Here's an excerpt from the final part of the last chapter of the Movie Serial, so that readers will know where we left off. Chapter Nine to follow.)

The image paces about its cell for a long minute, staring at the floor, before it looks again directly at the camera-- toward the questioner-- and returns to its monologue.

"I am from the greatest generation: the Creators of Empire. We are the Wise Men. We created the literary world you live in. In many ways, it could be said, we created you.

"We know that those who follow won't be up to our ability. It's the nature of the universe that in a civilization such as ours, the ruling generations decline. Not due to any fault of their own. Don't mistake me, please. It's a natural process. It's inevitable that you're less forceful, less intelligent, less shrewd. Your own father mocks you about this, I know. The question is whether you're intelligent ENOUGH to rule this machine we the Creators have set into motion.

"Why is this struggle important? This battle over literature? Because literature is language, the foundation of culture, of civilization, of thought itself. Without words we are not even human, will regress to become mere grunting animals. Beasts! Mere beasts. This fate is what we oppose. Without our wisdom to guide humanity, through literature, through ideas and discussion, we will have in this world only chaos. Another Dark Ages. Freedom equals Chaos. We have given humankind the illusion of freedom but we've always directed their path. You know this." (The image pauses.)

"I will give you now, to arm you for the intellectual battle ahead, a proper way to view the map of battle.

"Think for a moment about science fiction novels which use the universe of galaxies, planets, and stars as metaphor for this planet. Let's use this metaphor to explain real objects. Let's imagine-- imagine!-- this nation as an entire galaxy."

The Image of Plimpton turns suddenly. Behind him has come alive a large map of America dotted with lights-- sparks of lights representing cities of the civilization, as if they were glowing planets against a night sky. He points with wonder and pride at this sparkling backdrop before continuing the narrative.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Book Follies Part I


Events over the past two weeks have demonstrated to me the intellectually bankrupt condition of status quo literature.

Their Book Expo was a hopeful display in a metaphorical Green Zone in New York City; impressively staged panels of mandarins debating literature to themselves, filled with discussions over trivialities while their ship sinks.

Huge arguments took place over minor deviations from Elder John Updike's outdated "Rules for Reviewing." Minor deviations!-- when to save literature the Updike Rules should be dynamited.

Emanating from the affair was the overwhelming stench of mediocrity. We see now from established literature a parade of tiny-voiced caretakers; priests of an obsolete religion carrying on the handed-down rituals and dogma but no longer sure why. They clutch to weak connections to the Great Ones of Literature Past. They cannot create out of their own ranks new Great Ones. Their minds are too fearful and closed to look for them outside their halls of exclusion.

The National Book Critics Circle web site screams about failure and collapse-- THEIR failure as they finally notice the public has abandoned them. Instead of embracing change they clutch to things-as-they-are, using rusty buckets to bail out water gushing in from all sides, in place of escaping in lifeboats to start over. They seek to save a ship which is mortally wounded.

PANELS OF APPARATCHIKS AND PUPPETS talking to themselves, headed by the most reactionary of their number like new PEN head apparatchik novelist Francine Prose. It's a System without hope of redemption or reform.

NBCC President John Freeman represents the UNdemocratic forces of literature; refusing to respond to outsider e-mails; keeping only those posts on the NBCC blog he approves of. What makes him special? Anything beyond the trappings of his bureaucratic role? One finds from him recycled thoughts in recycled modes. Not a trace of originality or independence is to be discovered. Sure, he makes the proper noises. "I Care!" this garden-variety Ivy Leaguer wears as a label pinned to his chest-- but push him just a trifle and his innate exclusiveness comes out. He's unwilling to give up the Privileges of the Club.

Which can be said for the lot of them. The Book Expo was a staged puppet show with simulations of democracy sprinkled amid constant affirmations that All Is Well. "Believe us!" the puppets cry as the shaky cardboard box they're in threatens to fall over. The Continuance of Literary Empire is the goal. This bad theater resembles more and more the puppet show from Baghdad; a series of paid-off puppets there representing the illusion of independent government while the real world outside their Green Zone palaces falls apart. Is the Book Expo fiasco any different? How? While it keeps the real forces of literary democracy, the voice of dissent, outside its walls?

Steve Augustine, friend of a leading co-opted lit-blogger, recently sent me an e-mail assuring me that he's for literary revolution also. But what does this mean? Is he against elitism, privilege, corruption, and monopoly? The NBCC's leading figures have embraced monopoly in the person of Carrie Kania. They've embraced the embedded corruption of the lit-grants process in the person of Prince of Corruption Mr. Moody. They've embraced censorship by shutting out the ULA and its books. They reject change, blaming readers and the culture itself for their blindness, instead of admitting failure, firing those responsible, removing their walls and allowing new ideas into their shrinking forum.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Quick Fiction Overview

Yes, it's good that this great deceased Latin American author is receiving so much attention from U.S. book reviewers-- but why no attention for authentic American underground writers? Why are defenders of the status quo like Francine Prose given the assignment to blurb or review Bolano's book? Why are their remarks about it so phony? As if any of these conformists cared about underground literary rebellion! They're a universe away from Bolano's mindset. They adopt the pose of being open-minded. In truth, they're open-minded if the subject is thousands of miles away and doesn't touch them.

I look forward to someday reading all of Bolano's novel. So far, my perusal of it shows some interesting personalities and much literary gossip.

For a more compelling depiction of an underground personality, in a fuller context, read James Nowlan's Security, which has tougher, better writing and travels deeper societally and psychologically. (The underground now-- the future-- is available TODAY at

This idiotic novel glories in the supposed powers and secrecies of a Yale-like secret society. Just what the American public wanted! (Justification for George W. Bush?) It's yet another example of the insularity of the publishing industry.

The book is sick, warped, in that it makes light of the class privilege of the writer and her friends-- privilege which allowed the publication of the book, which has no popular or literary value. (Beyond pandering to those who want to be bluebloods.)

The novel was written for an elite clique, and since the N.Y. publishing world is dominated by this same clique, they loved it.

Another publication mystery. The cover and subject of this novel, ostensibly about the electronic game industry, by overhyped Canadian author Coupland, is reminiscent of Game Quest by underground Canadian novelist Leopold McGinnis. Except McGinnis's book is ten times better. Coupland's book is scarecely about the game business at all-- he shows little knowledge about it. The book is more a forum for showcasing the emptiness of his mind, filled with boring long ruminations about Ronald McDonald and other pseudo-cultural happenings which go beyond stupidity.

How does such garbage get published and hyped while the relevant writers of our society and time are ignored?

(I'll likely soon be posting a long-overdue review of the McGinnis book at the new ULA review blog,; the book's narrative has some parallels, as far as I'm concerned, with the struggles of the ULA itself.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

What Are They Afraid Of?

ONE WEEK AGO I SENT a request for equal treatment for ULA books to the entire nine-member blogging committee of the National Book Critics Circle. I received a response from not one of them.

What Are They Afraid Of?

Their silence is their admission that the determining factor in who gets attention in the book world is not artistic quality; not originality or new ideas; but power and money.

They genuflect eagerly to Carrie Kania of the Murdoch media empire, treating her feeble p.r. remarks like revealed doctrine from on high.

The big publisher spoke to us!-- their reaction says between the lines. She gave us a minute of her time, assuring us that all would be well, because now the monopolists are on the case, riding to the rescue with their own blogs; increasing their too-dominant space in the literary world at the same time.

And yet, at the same time, this powerful billion-dollar book company, division of an even greater more powerful more encompassing empire, is also terrified of the Underground Literary Alliance. Present them with simple truth and they go scampering like vampires facing daylight. Their most highly-trained highly-paid soldiers are incapable of argument and debate. (Just like the NBCC Nine.)

One would think literati-- great credentialed intellectuals-- would admit the corruption of today's literary world (or defend it); that NBCC, supposed defenders of free speech, would acknowledge that the ULA is blackballed, and give their reasons. They haven't. They sit silent.

What Are They Afraid Of?

Fighting the Robber Barons


In school they may still teach about the "Robber Baron" era of American history.

Today's monopolists are so big and powerful as to make past versions appear like kids at lemonade stands. One of the lesser of their number was able to purchase, by himself, once-mighty Chrysler Motor Car company.

UNreported by literary journalists is today's robber baron media: Rupert Murdoch, Summer Redstone, Si Newhouse and a few other fabulously wealthy individuals dominating music, movies, TV, and the print media. (Tom Hendricks of Musea zeen has done much research on this issue.)

To see gigantic media, visit the Conde-Nast and Time-Life buildings in New York City. Either produces more magazine noise than the rest of America combined. Evil skyscrapers.

Which returns us to this blog's ongoing serial. . . .

Soon to appear: Chapter Nine: Part 3 of "The Meeting."

(I also have a Monday Report upcoming at "DIY?: The Miranda July Story.")