Thursday, December 29, 2011

Newsletters and Subcultures


That was quite a panicky and petulant New York Times editorial Wednesday about Dr. Ron Paul, wasn't it? Of all the things they could editorialize about-- his building of a political movement outside the Harvard-Yale Duality, for instance (see below), or his ideas-- they chose a 20 year-old newsletter. They must be panicky indeed. Pants-wetting panicky. Someone's upsetting the carefully arranged game.

Now, I know nothing about the specifics of the Ron Paul newsletter; who wrote it, any of it. But I do know newsletters. Cranking out newsletters was how I began writing.

I wrote a local union newsletter on a job when I was in my 20's. Did it piss off people?

After I left that job, I found myself working with a commodity trader and doing a couple issues of an investment newsletter. This was also my introduction to libertarian thought, which gave an added dimension to my intellectual "game." Ideas they don't teach at the university. In 1992 or thereabouts I began a literary newsletter, New Philistine. Any still-extant copies are rare collector's items.

The 80's and 90's were the heyday of newsletters, which included the zine scene. An amazing subculture, or collection of subcultures, of outsider ideas. The kind of things you'll never encounter in the New York Times-- and which Times staffers in their narrowly regulated button-down world haven't been exposed to in variety and totality, if at all. Call it real America, outside the cardboard Officially Approved robotic facsimile of America projected by monopoly media. All ideas; extremes of Right and Left, everything in-between and ideas outside those extremes. (But to me, you see, the New York Times is the extreme. Extremely predictable conformity.) Libertarian to anarchist, every kind of anarchist. Racists, sure, and also vociferous anti-racists as exemplified by the many ARA (Anti-Racist Action) publications. The original factsheet 5 was a great compendium of the broad scene.

In a word: democracy.

As literature, it was the organic American reality, comprehensively the American voice, as elite literary journals can never be.

Know this: it was nearly impossible to plunge into that mass of activity without making contact with what button-down society considers to be loons, weirdos, and crackpots. "Extremists." (Human beings.) To create a newsletter, and market and sell it through the mail, took work. It took real commitment. It took fanaticism. We were all extremists, by trying to achieve the impossible.

We drew the membership of the Underground Literary Alliance from the underground zine scene. This included explosively unorthodox talents, with a wide diversity of characters and ideas. a small group, but we had in our ranks many punks and anarchists, at least two trannies, a couple libertarians, and most extreme of all, even and one out-and-out conservative. Crazy indeed.
You have to watch out for those subcultures, you really do. You know. They can be dangerous. Like that Jesus guy from 2,000 years ago. He and his tiny band of lowlife nobodies stirring things up, disturbing Empire. Friends with whacked-out uber-hippie John the Baptist. Outsiders with absolutely no standing daring to question the tops-down Authority of the day. Plainly crazy. The power people quickly disposed of the ringleaders, beheading John and crucifying Jesus. After all, you know. Outsiders are dangerous!
I don't know if the accusations against Dr. Paul have validity. I do know that if they hadn't found that, they'd have found something. Though Ron Paul is building his movement, he's always had 0% chance of getting the nomination. Outsiders, and outsider ideas, in literature OR politics, are unacceptable to what's presented to us as the mainstream.

The Harvard-Yale Duality

The truth about the U.S. political system over the past 25 years is that presidential choices have narrowed down to an ongoing contest between two elite schools, Harvard and Yale. If Vladimir Putin wishes to stop being an amateur at rigging a political system, he should study how system-rigging is done in the United States.

Here are the recent winners of the U.S. Presidency:

1988: Yale (beating Harvard).
1992: Yale.
1996: Yale.
2000: Yale/Harvard.
2004: Yale/Harvard.
2008: Harvard.

Note that George W. Bush covered his bases by being a grad of both places.

It appears from the list that Yale has the upper hand-- but 2012 will likely be a battle of Harvard vs. Harvard. After all, it's still Harvard's turn.

About the Media

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW about the U.S. monopoly media is that it gave more coverage to the death and funeral of Kim Jong Il, than to the death and funeral of one of the great men of the Twentieth Century, Vaclav Havel.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Peasant Audience

"Everybody hates a tourist." -Pulp, from their song "Common People"

SOMETIMES you can observe two things at once, and draw a connection between them.

So it is with my reading Anna Karenina simultaneous with the release of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" starring Rooney Mara.

Don't get me wrong, Karenina's a great novel, for all its flabbiness. But. The peasantry serves as a captive audience for the self-obsessed doings of the aristocrats. They're there to applaud the various comings and goings of the carriages filled with nobles. "Aw! Isn't that nice?" Makes you wonder why there was ever a Russian revolution.

I'm reminded of the appearance of Jonathan Lethem and Jennifer Egan at the Occupy Wall Street encampment, gracing the downtrodden with their gleaming presence, media in tow.

Do you think Margaret Mitchell read Tolstoy?

Frankly, it's hard after awhile to sympathize with the plight of Anna and Vronsky as they sit around their massive estate complaining about how bored they are. If ever a couple needed a revolution to wake them up, they did.

Is America today all that different?

Now we have precious newcomer Rooney Mara. The name, you know, is the combination of two plutocratic dynasties. Tolstoy would love it! Kind of like being named "Crassus Pompey," or "Borgia DeMedici."

If everything in this country is going to be for the aristocrats-- I could name a couple score of dynastic Hollywood celebrities-- then why should the rest of us bother trying to do anything? Let's at least have honesty! There should be a large sign put up saying, "CLOSED"-- to all but the right people, the proper crowd. The nobles should wear uniforms, with short jackets and epaulets, as they do in Tolstoy novels.

The rest of us are here to be the peasant audience; to serve; to loyally gush and applaud the delicate Rooney Maras when they make their society debuts.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blitz Review of a Japanese Detective Novel

Yes, the latest Blitz Review has been posted at

of Keigo Higashino's The Devotion of Suspect X.

I can tell you that the book receives the highest Blitz Rating I've yet given out-- but how high is that? Is it justified? Take a look!
Have a Merry Christmas. I'll be back with some provocative posts. Please return.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where's Our Democracy?

The New Yorker magazine has a long article by David Remnick in the current issue which argues the need for democracy in Russia. I'd like to ask David Remnick the question: Where's our democracy?

If Mitt Romney gains the GOP nomination, it will guarantee that the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1988, through 2012, will have been a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Or a graduate of both.

2004 pit members of the same Yale fraternity against each other! This time out, if Romney's nominated, as expected, it will be Harvard against Harvard. (This is as bad as the literary world!)

Does anyone notice or care how outrageous this is? Where are Occupiers on this question? This narrow domination gives the media show/political game away for the fraud that it is. It demonstrates that right now America is a very elitist, hierarchically-ordered society.

The NCAA's college football BCS system is anything but democratic. It's heavily weighted toward a select number of power conferences. There's much outcry this year over two schools from the same conference playing in the title game. Can you imagine the outcry if the same two schools appeared in the championship game every year? If there were 24 years of two-school monopoly in college football? Or worse, if one school played against itself!

I ask: Will all the concerned writers who signed the Occupy Writers petition sign one against this outrage? Would you bet that ANY of them would? Will the alleged democrats at a journal like n+1 run by Harvard and Yale grads rush to the forefront of this matter?

What about David Remnick? Will he push as hard for democracy in America as he does for democracy in a nation halfway across the globe?

Where are you, Mr. Remnick?

Where's OUR democracy, Mr. Remnick?

WHERE'S our democracy, David Remnick?

Where's our DEMOCRACY?!

For fiction with commitment read the ebook Mood Detroit.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Life Imitating Art

Speaking of Newsweek, they have an interesting article by Nancy Collins on the Natalie Wood case being reopened. Simultaneously, I happen to be reading for the first time Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, one of the great novels that I'd somehow never gotten to.

Isn't the triangle of Natalie Wood, husband Robert Wagner, and then-young Christopher Walken much like Anna, her husband Karenin, and Vronsky in the book? It's interesting that Natalie Wood was of Russian descent-- and looked it, very beautiful-- and I believe that Walken played an ethnic Russian in "The Deer Hunter," his first great movie role. Walken anyway could've easily played Vronsky back then, and Natalie Wood would've been a fabulous Anna Karenina. As an actor Walken was never the same after the strange night of her death-- he went from handsome leading man to weird character actor almost overnight.

I'm halfway through the novel. No, it's not as great as War and Peace, but it's still one of the biggies, timeless, with rich characterization and clear writing. No novelist today is comparable, sadly-- least of all the well-hyped frauds pushed at us from New York. Just my opinion, of course, but I doubt anyone can dispute it.

Having It All

Speaking of which-- how all the celebrities anymore come from the top 1%-- Newsweek approvingly calls them "Celebrity Spawn"-- quite a curiosity that of all the many young actresses who could've been chosen for the in-demand movie role of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," the progeny of billionaires, Rooney Mara (combining two multibucks families) got the role? That's the world we live in now.

(For an in-depth take on this, see my novelette "Bluebird," part of the ebook Mood Detroit. It's not polemical, just truthful.)

Thought on Christopher Hitchens

Just another rich guy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's Wrong with This?


Here's a part of the wikipedia entry for the Underground Literary Alliance, pertaining to one event:

"Firecracker Awards
Late 2001, the ULA protested against McSweeney's Quarterly Concern being awarded Best Zine of the Year by the Firecracker Alternative Books Award because McSweeney’s does not fit their definition of zine. The jury of the Firecracker Alternative Books Award remarked that they didn't ask the ULA what was their definition of a zine, because the ULA wasn't the organization presenting the award."


Here are a few definitions of the word "zine" found at various places:
"An inexpensively produced, self-published, underground publication."

Urban Dictionary:
"a cheaply-made, cheaply-priced publication."

"an independently or self published booklet often created by a single person."
"a cheaply printed magazine published irregularly by amateurs."

You get the idea. McSweeney's of course was a professionally-produced publication, with a paid office staff, the thick issues printed in Iceland at considerable expense and shipped to America by cargo container. Copies of each issue sold in the neighborhood of $25. The project may have been started with seed money from Simon & Schuster, a large book company owned by a gigantic conglomerate. Yes, the ULA protested this award, absolutely-- and was right to do so.

FYI: Much of the ULA's original wiki entry was written by Steve Kostecke, now deceased. What he put there, the basic facts, has been greatly distorted by a series of anonymous persons over the past few years. The result is a distorted view of the organization, its motives and history. I'd suggest that anyone considering restarting the outfit, in whatever way, begin by correcting the malicious damage done to this record. (If I get the opportunity, between my blogs and writing, I'll make a partial attempt myself.)

The truth is important-- to some of us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writer Versus Writer

At Blitz Book Review I'm pitting the literary story against the pop story, reviewing collections of both by, respectively, David Means and Alysse Aallyn.

I start with the literary variety. I've posted that review first, so I can follow it with a review more positive.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Crony Literastas


Of late I’ve been tough on the pseudo-intellectual literary journal n+1. At least, since Keith Gessen’s revealing essay about the cronyism of the established lit world which appeared in the October issue of Vanity Fair. n+1 deserves the criticism. This post is to explain why.

The problem with outfits like n+1 is they pretend to be radical, against the status quo. With such elitist pseudo-rebels about, what need is there for the genuine article? Co-optation might be the term.

The last time I encountered n+1’ers in person was May of 2009 when I stopped at Philadelphia’s Festival of the Book with another ULAer. Though I was no longer an active ULA member, I wore a ULA t-shirt for old time’s sake—and as an in-your-face gesture. The effect of the words “Underground Literary Alliance” on literary people is akin to that of showing a crucifix to a vampire.

We met in a park near the venue. The ULAer was a notoriously wild character. On the walk up we stumble into free food. A gift from God! We must’ve both been very hungry, because we destroyed the food quickly. The sun shone overhead, a cool but sunny spring day.

Among the many tables of literary people at the Festival was one staffed by n+1 people. Gessen wasn’t there. Marco Roth was the head guy, I believe. We verbally harassed Roth and his colleagues for several minutes. Such stuffy lit types are ridiculously slow thinkers and talkers. In the middle of our one-sided discussion, Marco put out that n+1’ers were “social democrats.”

We laughed and laughed—laughter the only possible response, because Roth’s statement was absurd.

The Voice of the People! Gessen told me once that n+1 was “written for everybody.” Just ignore all the pseudo-intellectual bullshit references then to Agamben and Agamboon. No doubt Gessen and Company consider themselves populist and anti-capitalist, while accepting large checks from media monopolies.

The duplicity in fact is staggering. n+1 took the lead in the “Occupy Writers” idea to support or co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement. They did this at the same time a large banner at the top of their site advertised a joint promotion between n+1 and News Corp, whose megabucks, I suspect, are now indirectly funding their journal.

There are two kinds of capitalism. One is the free market, competitive kind—when there is a free and fair market—typified by ambitious small businessmen.

The other kind is Crony Capitalism with a capital C, whose every effort is geared toward squelching competition. It feeds on connections, conglomerates, elitism, hierarchies, Insider knowledge, monopoly, networking. Which was what Keith Gessen’s article for Vanity Fair was about.
A response to this post is welcomed.
Do you support independent literature? Purchase affordable American Pop Lit ebooks by King Wenclas. Latest offering: Crime City USA. There’s no substitute for the authentic article.

The Bluff of the Establishment Literary World

IN A MEETING with a foreign ambassador just before the start of World War II, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin analyzed the British Empire, marvelling at how a small island had established a world empire on bluff. He gave as example the few hundred Englishmen dominating the vast subcontinent of India.

A similar situation holds sway today in the established U.S. literary world. That world is built on, and sustained by, bluff.

Jonathan Lethem can write virtually anything, no matter how ridiculous, and unquestioning legions of readers and writers accept it, because it comes from a designated star.

The truth is that the clubby members of lit's power clique, even at intellectual journals like The Believer and n+1-- especially at journals like The Believer and n+1-- aren't very bright. Possible exception made for Eggers. Some are methodical plodders. Others are less than that, get by on pedigree or the certification of degrees. They all exist behind a flimsy facade of bluff which no ambitious writer dares question.

Why is this?

What today's name Insider writers are truly good at is gaming the system. They've been doing it their entire lives. It's how they slid into elite hierarchical slots at spots like Harvard, and prevailed at such places.

Occupy Writers, a latch-on to the Occupy movement by Insiders, was a good example of how this crowd of careerist opportunists were able to quickly spot a no-risk way to make themselves look good, and jump at it. Their win-lose risk radar is first class. In this instance, they ensured that if revolution ever takes place, the same people-- at least in the literary game-- will be in charge.

Character? Principles? Integrity? Honesty? For them, irrelevant concepts. As of course is the concept of democracy, which is not AT ALL what they're about. The pose is what counts-- being on the right side of the crowd.

But what about their writing?

At their best, their writing is competent. See Jonathan Franzen. Many of these people learned well through their many training programs how to be unspectacularly competent.

At its worst, with writers whose self-importance gets ahead of their meager talents, as with Jonathan Lethem and Miranda July, the writing is execrable, the childish thought behind it an embarrassment.

The shakiness of their world is compounded by the fact that most of them subscribe to a philosophy, postmodernism, which is intellectually bankrupt.

I wish more outside-the-clique writers would awake from their stupors, lose their timidity and begin to expose the In crowd for the emperors-without-clothes that they are.

Just my two cents worth. Take it for what you will.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Occupy Philly Photos Finally Up!


Several of the photographs I took at the Occupy Philadelpia encampment at the deadline, 11/27/11, are posted right here:

Friday, December 09, 2011

Worst Christmas Singer?

Yes, it's that time of year again. Deluged everywhere we turn by awful Christmas music, especially awful singing, we ask, who's the absolute worst?

There are many candidates. For instance, Willie Nelson should be allowed nowhere near a Christmas song. But for my money no one destroys so many Christmas songs as does Zooey Deschanel with her terribly weak, limited, straining, amplified voice. I could stand at a shopping mall and choose six people at random, and at minimum four of them would be able to sing better than Zooey Deschanel can. It's a shame, because there are many excellent singers out there, with actual voices, but who gets played at coffeeshops and shopping malls? Zooey! Talent means nothing. What a society.

It proves that Melissa Bluebird is real.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Shakespeare and Other Matters

An important blog post of mine, outlining my ideas, is now right here:

Occupy Photos Update

Yes, I will be posting photos from that particular Occupy Philly Deadline Sunday when a lot was happening.

I'm also using much of what I saw and thought for two fiction ebooks I'm currently writing. One will use the encounter between Occupy Philly homeless people and members of the local Tea Party. I was among those caught between the two camps.

For a real novel I've been working on, The Tower, I'll be using much more. The subject of this book is revolution. It contains a variety of characters, including a plutocrat-- who I'm striving to make understandable and believable-- but also several anarchist revolutionaries. As I'll describe in an upcoming American Pop Lit blog post, I'm using many of my ideas about how to write fiction on this particular ebook. Now, if the congloms had any brains, they'd offer me Harbach-style money for the book, because when it's finished it'll blow away anything their tepid pampered writers are doing or are capable of doing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Meaning of Steve Kostecke

The writers group that wanted to replace the Underground Literary Alliance, that was founded in early 2007 by five former ULAers, asked for no commitment and received no commitment. When it finally asked for something from its 900(!) signed-up clicked-on members, the entire thing, the would-be organization, simply melted away, like the witch at the end of "Wizard of Oz."

By contrast, the ULA finally split because its two core guys believed too strongly in the ULA idea. Steve Kostecke and I agreed on the overall strategy but argued over tactics. Both of us, it turned out, were too wedded too intensely to the project to compromise.

Most writers like to consider themselves "outsiders," but few are in reality. Steve Kostecke was alienated from the madness of his home country, the good old USA, so he spent most of his adult life overseas. Did he have a commitment to his writing? Yes! All the way. At some stage he made literature that crazy quest of words the #1 priority in his life. He was no hobbyist.

When you ask for commitment to literary change, those are the kind of writers you need.

Reasons People Write

"Eight Reasons People Write" is one of the things I wrote at another blog, during the period when I was unable to get onto this one. Check it out at

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sara Gran Reviewed!

Detective novelist Sara Gran is reviewed at Blitz Book Review,  

as are novelists Jim Nisbet and Rikki Ducornet.

How do their recent books rate? Check it out!

Programming Note

I've been having trouble posting on this blog at most of the places I post at. (My other blogs are fine.) It has something to do with browser issues between Google and Explorer, and how they affect older blogs. Fighting conglomerates? I hope to discover ways around this.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Going Down Now

WHEN I WAS AWAKENED by the sound of helicopters some minutes ago, I instantly knew what was happening. It'd rained all evening. A perfect time for the police to shut down the Philadelphia encampment.

According to the radio, hundreds of police are surrounding the remaining fifty Occupiers at Dilworth Plaza. Buses are parked nearby to take them to jail. Should I go down there to try to view? I don't know. . . .

Are the Occupiers troublemakers, or are they heroes?

To me, any sign of dissent in this locked-down hyperregulated society is heroic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pioneers or Parasites?


The 11/27/11 issue of the New York Times Book Review contains a review by Jeffrey Rosen of a new book by Robert Levine, How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.

By "culture business," does Robert Levine mean the monopolies which have dominated the publishing business for so long?

Accompanying the article are blown-up photos of actual parasites, one of them labelled "e-books." Wow.

My response is that the New York Times with its stale and elitist view of literature had better be scared!

Levine's argument, presented by Jeffrey Rosen in his review, is that entertainment distributors (like Amazon) "become 'parasites' on the media companies that invest substantially" in artists, musicians, and writers. This "sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture."

It's debatable how good those "best achievements" really are. Sucking the lifeblood out of giant media conglomerates seems a great thing to me. It's called levelling the playing field.

Writers will arrive who'll be able to produce ebooks with writing more original and striking than anything from the Bigs, at a fraction of the price. They've already arrived. I'm one of them. I have no overhead, other than a cheap netbook and occasional coffeeshop purchases. I challenge Rosen, Levine, or anyone at New York Times Book Review to read my 99-cent Mood Detroit and tell me it's not expertly edited and proofed-- by myself-- with strong themes, subjects, and voice. Tougher writing, lower price, better value. (My best ebooks are yet to come!)

How will the artery-hardened Manhattan skyscraper bureaucracies compete?

Can they afford 99 cents?

Possibly they're afraid to read what's coming just around the curve.

It's also curious that the Book Review publishes Rosen's review, with its concerns about copyright and "parasites," three pages away from a review which praises Jonathan Lethem, a writer who a few years ago wrote an essay for Harpers magazine defining the word "plagiarism" out of existence. Curious indeed.

We're seeing the inevitable democratization of literature-- moves that naturally threaten the cronyistic little world of the establishment variety, which has dominated the art for too long.

Will the sleepwalking New York Times ever wake up?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Philly Deadline

Things were hectic and tense at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment yesterday evening as the 5 pm deadline approached. Ministers led a prayer service. Watching cops chewing gum seemed very nervous. At the south end of the plaza at 4 pm, great oratory from a crowd of young activists. At 4:30, at the north end, the Tea Party showed up! The timing wasn't good. They were confronted by actual Occupiers, the hard-core, a bit older, in their 30's and 40's, quite vocal homeless guys black and white standing on a wall speaking passionately at the police-encased few Tea Partiers below.

At the deadline, a massed crowd in the center of the plaza, 80 or so of them sitting down and linking arms, waiting to be arrested. Much top police brass was there, including Deputy Commissioner Ross; including several tough-looking characters, one a captain who I observed stoically enduring a few insults. He looked like someone not to mess with; a dangerous animal barely restraining itself.

The police never moved against the protestors.

I hope to have a series of photos about these events up here soon, or at least this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Amazing New Book Review Blog

I've revived, big-time, my book review, Blitz Book Review at

What's amazing about it?

You'll receive honest literary criticism, Raves and Hates, as nowhere else. I have no hostages to literary fortune. As always from me, you'll receive the unrestrained truth. PLUS, you'll receive it with a unique feature: The Blitz Rating. I'm setting myself to do a ton of reading.

Do YOU have a book you're hawking? Send it on. Smallish paperbacks preferred-- modest-sized novels or short story collections. No large-sized envelopes please!  Mail to:

K. Wenclas
PO Box 22681
Philadelphia PA 19110

Note: I'm not set-up for ebooks yet, but that's coming.

Recommendations considered.

Get in line now for the Blitz Review treatment.

"Reasonable Solutions"

It looks like Occupy Philly will be ended on Sunday, the "Reasonable Solutions" moderates bought out with a possible-but-not-certain free office in the city bureaucracy someplace. A neat trick. At any point, the city can close the useless office, citing budgetary reasons.

My experience with activism is that "reasonable solutions" for the activist side always boils down to one thing: We lose and they win.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mass Celebration

Word has it there are massive demonstrations in Egypt, Syria, and Tibet, as well as in downtown areas of our own country. What could possibly be the reason?

I figure it has to be out-of-control joy at the launch of my great new book review blog, Blitz Book Review! What else?

Join the excitement at

Don DeLillo, Joyce Oates, and David F. Wallace are already at the party. What about YOU?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coming Attractions Part I

I'll announce soon a new book review blog. It'll launch with reviews of (fairly) new books from three big names.

Joyce Carol Oates

Don DeLillo

David Foster Wallace

Three biggies. Can you guess which one receives a positive review?

Because I'll be writing it, it will be the best book review spot around. I'm the fastest and sharpest literary critic on the planet. Will I demonstrate this? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Really Happened?

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which remains one of the great mysteries of history. An action within parameters of time and space.

The event happened at the height of the Cold War, and so was a time of much panic and hysteria, not unlike today. The idea of assassination was in the air, was the zeitgeist of the time-- at least if you look at two movies with the theme of assassination which came out the year before JFK's death: "The Manchurian Candidate," and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Viewed today, both films contain scenes which appear prophetic.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" of course was the subject, sort of, of a recent essay by Jonathan Lethem the Postmodernist that appeared in The Believer. Lethem's essay makes clear that, while he may have enjoyed the movie, he didn't understand it.

The film is about the quest for historical truth. Truth is a subject that Lethem, on more than one occasion-- including his recent essay-- has shown he has no interest in. Because of his warped philosophy, he buys the perspective of the newspaper editor who near the end of the film states, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." He implicitly believes that truth is what he says it is. The "newspaper"-- media; authority; power-- determines truth. For the postmodernist, truth is a construct; is strictly conditional.

Yet while this is the point of view of a character in the movie, it's not the belief of the movie itself. Of the mind who created it. The entire narrative is about digging back, reaching back through the dust of the years and the haze of memories to find the kernel of truth, forever asking the question of historians,
"What really happened?"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

At Occupy Philly

At Occupy Philly last night I saw the worn out underclass faces of those who remain. Police and news media like vultures encircled the site. I felt the waiting sense of panic and stress-- the thought of: what happens next? Many of their number had just been arrested two blocks away, at a bank.

Don't kid yourself. Many of the holdouts are feeling the brunt of the recession. Homeless; chronically unemployed; working class students with enormous loan debt they'll never be able to pay back, They have a reason to be scared and angry. As, in a different way, so do many in the Tea Party, those small business persons who've put their lives into fledgling endeavors and are barely hanging on, close to losing everything. They may scorn the homeless in the Occupy encampments, but their biggest fear is joining them.

Right now when I speak about Occupiers I'm not talking about Harvard grads or n+1 staffers. I mean the real 99%-- not the Haves but the Have Nots. Not the paid professional activists on the Left, but neither am I speaking about the paid professional pundits on the Right. Nor the "Reasonable Solutions" people. Nor the Senators in Washington on both sides of the aisle deciding the nation's fate. They're not hurting. None of their kind are hurting. They're only good with their mass media lapdogs at manipulating the anger on all sides out there and keeping the hurting people divided, so they can maintain their station. It's why I strongly suspect partisanship and ideology. I see scoundrels on both sides.

Will the house-of-cards balloon society kept going with hot air collapse? The Overdogs don't yet know what that feels like. When I was something of an activist, with the ULA (Underground Literary Alliance) my Overdog opponents couldn't comprehend my anger. But, you see, I lived through the economic devastation of Detroit. I know what it's like when your world ideals included collapses on top of you.

Just blowing off steam. . . .

Friday, November 18, 2011


What everyone wants right now is change. Change! Real change-- not scams or cooptations.

Is change coming to American literature?

I believe so. It's long overdue. It needs to be a complete swing in direction, change which rolls by and over the debris of literary corruption and rot of the present.

What's the answer? Clear, relevant, exciting writing that can bring excitement into the art.

Sound doable? Sound like fun? My "Pop Lit" books and ideas point a direction. They're merely a start. Change is coming. Get on board.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Meaning of Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy protests will have meaning if the ideals found and announced at them are continued. The tasks are
A.) decentralizing power;
B.) fighting corruption;
C.) democratizing the society and culture.

Isn't It Ironic?

Meanwhile, the Insider literary mag n+1 is complaining about plutocracy at the same time they're running a banner promoting a book published by Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch. ("We have met the enemy, and they is us." -Pogo.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Waiting for Mayor Nutter


The television trucks are parked and waiting, cameras pointed on tripods at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment. A helicopter buzzes continuously in the sky overhead. Strangely, there are less police visible than last night. Why? Are they gathering? This is the sense in the air, anyway, which could mean nothing.

Fighting the Power


Populist actions on both the Left and the Right show that the populace wants more of a voice. They want a return to democracy in America.

Last decade, the Underground Literary Alliance fought corruption and cronyism in the halls of literature. We were attacked and ostracized as a result. If the full truth ever comes out, we'll find that powerful forces worked very hard to discredit the ULA in every way possible, including creating a false narrative about our campaign and message, which was used to blackball us.

(See a companion post, "Was the ULA Betrayed?" up shortly at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Democracy in Literature?

The people on all sides in this country want more democracy. How do we get it in the top-down top-heavy realm of literature?

Frances Fox Piven in Philly

At the Occupy Philly encampment last week.

Occupy Philly Update

When colder weather hit, the population of the Philadelphia City Hall encampment didn't decline. It went up, likely due to an influx of homeless. Where at the start, the camp was 90% activists and 10% homeless, that ratio now seems to have been reversed. (I saw Frances Fox Piven speak at the site last week. The usual bromides.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Other Blogs of Mine

At my newest blog, I make a few further remarks about Joe Paterno, and again relate him and his situation to the literary world. See

At my restricted access blog, I've been discussing the ULA. Recent posts include "Why Do It?"; "Targets"; "Outlaws"; with other posts to come like "Going Radical?" and "Going Moderate?" See or email me to gain access.

I've also reopened the Petition to PEN blog at
to show that outreach to the literary establishment has been attempted. The Petition was one small tentative step toward democratizing the art.

Has the environment changed in two years? Is democracy in literature suddenly now possible?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Literary Rebellion, Near and Far

From the New York Times, November 7, 2011, on the front page: "A Literary Rebel Finds Success."

Really? Where?

Not here, it turns out. In China. Novelist Murong Xuecun, "a laureate of corruption" and "word criminal," is approvingly profiled.

The New York Times is the place, incidentally, that had their security thugs throw members of the Underground Literary Alliance and a zine table off the sidewalk in front of their then-headquarters in January of 2007.

For The New York Times, literary rebels are fine as long as they're not American. As long as they don't expose corruption in the very corrupt U.S. literary regime.

My Take on Penn State

The horrific Penn State scandal tells us two things.

1.) The mass of people refuse to believe the worst unless it's staring them in the face. Until then, there's a propensity to protect the glorified names. From all concerned, an inclination to cover up. Power preferred to the Good.

2.) It's often those publicly portrayed as most virtuous who are the most corrupt, or in a few cases, evil. This is the heavy-handed theme, in fact, of my ebook Crime City USA. Have you read it? The novella was intended to be over-the-top. Suddenly it doesn't read like much of an exaggeration.
Is there an analogy to American literature?

I can strongly testify to at least this: In the United States it's the whistleblower, not the miscreant, who's ostracized by the literary community.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Phoniness of the Literati

What bothers me about cynically fraudulent displays like Occupy Writers is that elite writers who've benefitted greatly from the inequities of class have suddenly discovered the concept, and feign to be concerned. Those of us who've written about the subject-- for years; big-picture literature-- have been shut out, told that our kind of writing isn't allowed.

Back in 1994 a long essay of mine about class and America was published in a literary journal by a brave editor named Robley Wilson. "Detroit: Among the Lower Classes," was the essay's title. You won't find it archived anywhere on-line, though a lesser essay I wrote for the same journal-- about baseball!-- is available. Figure that out.
Read independent literature. Buy Mood Detroit, an ebook.

Why You Should Read this Blog

"Gimme some truth."  -John Lennon

A climate of corruption permeates establishment literature. This is the ONLY place where you'll receive the truth.

a genuine alternative

The See-No-Evil Mob

Students at Penn State rioting against the housecleaning of corrupt officials who enabled monstrous occurrences well shows that the one thing a blindly loyal herd doesn't want is the truth.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Resurrect the ULA?


This makes sense only if the organization aggressively lobbies outfits like Occupy Writers to live up to their new-found principles.

Occupy Writers: "All pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others."

What Options Are Open?

What avenues are open for a writer like myself, with no backing and no resources, who's pissed off a few important personages, yet who seeks to get word out about his ebooks?

Playing the politely submissive hat-in-hand game like a million others doesn't cut it.

The two elephants in the room are
1.) The Big Six book companies-- themselves owned by megaconglomerates like News Corp-- who have unlimited resources to promote their Approved pets like Egan or Lethem.
2.) The Ivy League/New York buddy system, from where most of the Approved come.

A combination of monopoly and elitism, cronyism and privilege.

The only problem with my noise is that I'm not making enough of it.

Curious Appearance

Note the New York Observer article by Emerald Pellot, here:

Did their agents send them out there? Their publicists? Do Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Lethem-- both who I've been covering here-- have books to promote? We know that Jennifer Egan has been on a reading tour, at the same time she was made the publicity photo poster child for "Occupy Writers." Cynical, cynical. From Pellot's article, it doesn't sound like Egan has much experience at activism.

As for Jonathan Lethem, his appearance is more like the arrival of a postmodern literary god, "At the appointed time," Emerald Pellot tells us, accompanied by a "small entourage of camera people."

 "This is a lucky day for me to stand before you," the aristocrat tells the peasants, er, Occupiers.

Lethem assumes "no particular privileges." Unmentioned is that he's been accepting "particular privileges" of a lavish variety for many years.

Pellot informs us that Lethem "condemned the cynical press and unruly corporate regimes." But, Jonathan, you're a creation and creature of that very same cynical press (his appearance being quite cynical), and those same corporate regimes.

I ask: Will these two much lauded and applauded privileged literary persons now change their ways and embrace democracy in literature? Will they herein show that they're not there for cynical reasons of publicity, that their appearance isn't merely for show? Will they now reach out to those writers who've been fighting against corruption, cronyism, and monopoly for many years?

We'll see, I guess, won't we?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Misunderstanding the Literary Establishment

Writers misunderstand the nature of those who sit stop the literary pyramid. Those whose pedigree, connections, or lack of scruples have placed them at the top. These high-stationed individuals have a huge investment in their own snobbery. This is a crass, but accurate, way of stating the fact. Despite their oft-proclaimed liberal ideals, they believe that their Harvard degrees, say, give them always forever the right to first place. Even in a revolution, should one ever occur, they'd expect to call all the shots. Their superiority is a given. Their wisdom is assumed.

The mistake that even some ULAers have made is believing these privileged individuals can be dealt with. Writers from middle class backgrounds especially believe in the innate goodness of human beings. The fault can't be with the Wise Boys at places like n+1 or The Believer. Their displayed innocence! Their forthright ideals!

The hapless hopeful writer not a member of the Club doesn't realize that the Wise Boys will never, never, never, never willingly accept her or him as an equal. Never, never, never. Understanding this reality needs to be the starting point of any relationship with the status quo scene.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Where's Jonathan Lethem?


I'm still waiting for a response to my takedown of Jonathan Lethem's October Believer essay. I sent The Believer people part of it, along with a link.

Will they-- or Jonathan Lethem himself-- explain and defend their ideas and writing? Anyone?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Miranda July and Morality


On 10/10/11 The New Yorker magazine published a strange piece by Miranda July about shoplifting. "Free Everything." It's an opening into the vacant mind of an amoral person-- the perfect Nietzschean.

Ms. July describes how, as a young adult, she spent much of her time shoplifting. "--the whole world was one giant heist," she affirms.

There's no sense of shame in her reflections. "--no, I did not have any qualms," she says about stealing even from Goodwill Industries, a charitable organization where Miranda was briefly employed. "Because what is money, anyway?" she asks. "It's just a concept some asshole made up."

Keep in mind that Miranda July comes from a privileged background. Her parents were affluent hippies.

The essay is revealing, in that it unintentionally explains her later career gaming the system, obtaining arts grant after arts grant to an amazing extent. (I documented this in a "Monday Report," "The Miranda July Story," for the still-defunct Underground Literary Alliance site.) Miranda's mother held important positions at nonprofits, and no doubt advised Miranda on how to play the cronyistic system game for maximum benefit.

Isn't this how the established literary world operates? Duplicity is the norm. Grab everything possible, without moderation, to feed the special individual's desires. Play any role. Wear any face. The Self is the center of the universe. Getting ahead is the only morality.

Miranda July's short essay makes plain that Miranda is the center of her universe. She carries a sense of complete entitlement, of uninhibited privilege without restraint. The world belongs to her. What's money, anyway? She's never lacked for it, so for her it's a concept without meaning.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Underground Discussions

Where goes the literary underground? Apparently some past members of the notorious Underground Literary Alliance are discussing exactly that. I've decided to give them their space, and instead post my thoughts about such matters at my private blog, Those who are registered readers are welcome to drop in. Anyone wishing to become a reader can send me an email.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Moderates vs. Radicals

At least, that's the drift I got while observing this afternoon's General Assembly at the Occupy Philly encampment at City Hall. The question being discussed is whether or not they're to move voluntarily from City Hall. They're being pressured to do so. The usual constipated intellectual types were arguing very precisely that they should do exactly that-- to somewhere a little more out of the way. "It's time for other tactics," they pleaded weakly. Paine's "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots." (Easy for me to say.)

Fortunately there were a few hard core impassioned radical types, like a very compelling black dude named Blue, and a very large blonde woman named Ivanka. Of course, they're right. You don't willingly give up a winning location. You stand together. In pushing for change, leverage is everything. (Which I never got through all the way to the ULA.)

But what do I know?

To me, moderates are the death of any organization or group pushing for change. I speak from experience.

Incident at a Starbucks

Here I am minding my own business at a Center City Starbucks, settled in a deep corner table out of sight of just about everybody, nursing a "tall" (small) paper cup of hot tea, lost in reading the free Metro newspaper. Suddenly I notice a very tall and gaunt black man standing over me saying he's homeless and hungry while simultaneously two female Starbucks baristas are at his elbows, scarcely coming up to his elbows in height, telling the tall man he has to leave and he's muttering to them he's not going to he's homeless and hungry. Stalemate.

Why had he come up to me, out of all the people in the room at least a dozen? Had he passed the others by? Had he zeroed in on the only sap in the clean place who might give him a smidgen of sympathy? (Or better, money?) Granted, I was the only occupant who appeared not to be a stone-cold-heartless-absorbed-in-talk-or-a-laptop-well-dressed-and-professional-balls-to-the-wall yuppie. But still: Why me?

"They're giving away free food at City Hall," I told the man, looking at him between the two frantically upset baristas. "Right now. The Occupy people."

The three contestants moved away from me. I returned to reading my newspaper.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Motivation of a Toothache

What's my motivation for renewed noise against the literary elite? (Aside from their blatant corruption and obvious phoniness, their absent morality and fraudulent ideas, and my need to get word out about my ebooks?)

Right now I have a toothache which causes constant stress and aggravation. I'm not sleeping. If you have no insurance, and no money, seeing a dentist is an unreal dream.

I had a tooth like it a year ago. Eventually the tooth broke up and fell out, not without a certain amount of pain.

Poor writers in this country are in a race of time to see what happens first: you die, or all your teeth fall out.

Here's hoping that the tooth at least makes for some strong writing!
(To read strong writing, purchase Crime City USA, available as an ebook. Or, for more subtlety, try Mood Detroit.)

Reality America. You'll find no stronger and relevant writing anyplace. Writing the literary elite fears to read.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Literary Group as Non-Person

MUCH has been made of corporations being granted personhood status. With the now-defunct Underground Literary Alliance we have an instance of a writers group being made a NONperson, Soviet-style, by the powers-that-be of literature and monopoly media. The ULA's history is Forbidden History. No one is allowed to publicly talk about it. We've been airbrushed out of the narrative.

Questions for Overdogs

1.) Why does the literary establishment accept no criticism or dissent, even in a time of strong dissent?
2.) Why is the response to such dissent always in the most underhanded way possible-- constructing false
narratives and spreading them privately; or, when responding directly, always, ALWAYS, under fake identities?
3.) Why no response to facts and ideas-- such as in my critique of the Jonathan Lethem essay?
4.) Why go after a lone powerless voice-- and not the hugely powerful voices of media monopoly? Would that be "biting the hand" that sustains you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Metaphor of the Mask

The character "Fake Face" in my new e-book Crime City USA isn't a metaphor for any one particular writer, whether Daniel Handler, Keith Gessen, or anyone else. He's a metaphor for the entire cronyistic shithouse that's the established literary scene.

Lit's leading lights wear bright beaming masks of social justice and concern. Beneath the masks they're ruthless bastards who were raised with the knowledge that this is a dog-eat-dog world. It's why they fight to get into bastions of Elitism and Privilege like Columbia, Yale, or Harvard. Or crony-up quickly enough with that crowd. Cronyistas. They understand that playing the game on an UNlevel playing field favoring them is what it's about. Everything else from them is lip service. Token gestures for suckers like myself.

Visualize a smiling fake face on the lot of them, then realize it's only a mask. Beneath it, like the character in my melodrama, they're monsters.

Where Was Jennifer?

On Thursday evening so-called 99 percenter writer Jennifer Egan was in Philadelphia giving a talk to a decidedly upscale audience at the main Philadelphia Free Library. Did she visit the Occupy Philadelphia site later?

When I got off my job after 9 pm, I took a walk through the Occupy Philly site, where people were snuggling into cold tents against the chilly night. I looked around. I didn’t see famed novelist Jennifer Egan anyplace.

I suppose that after her event Jennifer took the Amtrack straight back to her yuppified Brooklyn enclave. Back to the illusory comfort of the polished pots and pans carefully arrayed in her pristine kitchen.

Elitism-Free Fiction


I’m pleased to announce that American Pop Lit books will not be publishing any of the corrupt culture’s leading elitist writers. Sorry, your cronyism, snobbery, and phoniness won’t work here.

LATEST RELEASE: Crime City USA, available in ebook.

Go Tebow!

What I like about football player Tim Tebow more than his strength of character—a rare thing nowadays—is his unorthodox way of playing the game. The critics are all over him, of course. He doesn’t throw the ball in an orthodox manner! He hasn’t learned the proper way he’s supposed to play the game.

Is there an analogy to American literature?

Only that everyone in the established literary world is orthodox in the way they think and write. They’re formed from the same cookie-cutter model. All of them. Every one. This makes them beatable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

About Jonathan Lethem and Postmodernism

Jonathan Lethem's "Postmodernism as Liberty Valance: Notes on an Execution" in the October issue of The Believer is bad writing backed by a ridiculous argument.

Lethem's objective isn't to write a clear and compelling essay. It's to present a facade of intellectualism, combined with trademark McSweeney's-style cutesiness added to show that, hey, he's one of us.

Behind his clog of words, Lethem has two points. He doesn't try to prove the points. They're assumed. The herd he writes for accepts the points on face value. The essay is affirmation. "Hallelujahs" in a praise-pomo church service. The purpose of the essay is showing off.

Lethem's two points:

1.) Literary postmodernism is under continual assault.

2.) Postmodernism is like the film character Liberty Valance.

POINT ONE: Because literary postmodernism isn't under real attack, Lethem doesn't need to construct a real argument. His essay is a victory dance over pretend opponents. The idea is to make the unquestioning readership feel good: Rome replaying its wars with Carthage decades after the fact. A ritualistic dance.

Lethem writes,

"My version allegorizes the holding at bay, for the special province of literary fiction, of contemporary experience in all its dismaying or exhilarating particulars, as well as a weird, persistent denial of a terrific number of artistic strategies for illuminating that experience. The avoidance, that's to say, of any forthright address of what's called postmodernity, and what's lost in avoiding it (a sacrifice I see as at best pointless, an empty rehearsal of anxieties, and at worst hugely detrimental to fiction)."

What is he talking about?

Jonathan Lethem says of postmodernism:

"--the word is often used as finger-pointing to a really vast number of things that might be seen as threatening to canonical culture."

Really? By who?

Today, postmodernism IS canonical culture. The French critics Lethem defends in his essay are celebrated by the academy. They're part of the canon.

Lethem talks of the "collapsing of high and low cultural preserves--."

This sure isn't happening in Lethem's world! He's safely in the "high" end, along with metafiction, antinarrative, intertextuality, unreliable narration, "surrealism or magical realism or hysterical realism," irony, and the rest of the postmodern jumble. The academy does have values, of a sort. The intellectual jumble Lethem describes is its highest value.

The items Lethem lists and defends are now part of "high" culture. They've been around for fifty years. There's nothing threatening to "the literary community" about them. Go onto trendy lit-sites like HTML Giant and you see that these ideas and strategies ARE the literary community.

(To read this post in its entirety, click on )

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Oppressed Writers Incorporated"


RUMOR HAS IT that organizers of Occupy Writers, that radical place of upscale protest, are ready to take their activism to the next level. Which means, of course, non-profit status to rake in contributions from rich people.

In order to appeal to those rich donors, they'll need to put their most successful and genteel writers out front-- exactly the way they did from the start. Do it, as well, with a sympathetic twist. Ergo, the name change to Oppressed Writers Incorporated.

Here's a quick look at their stellar line-up, with credentials for Oppressed Writer status listed:

Francine Prose
Insider recipient of just about every possible establishment position and prize.

Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket
Possibly the richest writer in America.

Chad Harbach
Received $665,000 advance from Rupert Murdoch.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel
Rich heiress bought The Nation and made herself Editor.

Keith Gessen
Lit-establishment Cronyista writer for New Yorker, Vanity Fair, New York Times,

Rick Moody
Prize-manipulating scion of wealth.

Tom Beller
Once wrestled a camera away from a female ULA member one-third his size.

Jennifer Egan
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist embracing the 99% from her gentrified Brooklyn kitchen.

Jonathan Lethem
MacArthur Genius designee wants Oppressed status for the postmodern establishment.

Lizzie Skurnick
Yale grad.

Oppressed Writers Incorporated hold their opening meeting at the swanky Russian Tea Room in Manhattan.

Ms. Prose steps to the microphone to make the opening speech, but has trouble talking with the flow of tears in her eyes. Swanky waiters bustle between swanky tables taking orders.

"This is all so wonderful . . . all you wonderful Oppressed Writers . . . I, I feel so wonderful at this wonderful community of the common people . . . I, I. . . ."

Prose begins bawling uncontrollably, her elegantly manicured hands clutching a silk handkerchief. Daniel Handler in dapper tux and top hat leads her away while Oppressed Writers in the room munch on canapes and sip quite loudly-- "Snort! Snort!"-- from expensive glasses of wine.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crimes Against Writers

Picture 032 by King Wenclas
(For years the Underground Literary Alliance was accused of engaging in class war. Suddenly, class war has become chic.)

Now that established literati have magically transformed from aristocrats to democrats (see Occupy Writers), at least in their own minds, will they stop blackballing dissident American writers?
I'm reposting the link to my iNewp article, "The Tale of Two Literary Worlds," because it's a much-needed take on media realities and literary truths. See

I wrote the essay as a signal that, "Hey! I'm still here. The literary underground is still here."

We're still out there. Still writing. Fighting for survival. Ever fighting. Not all of us are dead yet.

Jennifer Egan, Oppressed Writer

Isn't that a great photo of author Jennifer Egan at

A 99 per center. One of the people! What a perfect bullshit life. Jennifer Egan is rich, comfortable, and successful-- and one of the revolutionary masses at the same time. Who knew?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SHOW ME What Democracy Looks Like

Picture 008 by King Wenclas
When Yale and Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown lead the parade, you know you're in trouble.

Occupy Writers as Metaphor

Occupy Writers ( is a metaphor for aspects of America. The initiators, Kiera Feldman and Jeffrey Sharlet, recruited first the most successful or connected writers, who were rushed to the head of the pack. Several, like Francine Prose and Lemony Snicket, wrote original pieces for the site. The privileged always go first. Isn't this how society works?

Allowed next were credentialed folks, those with Approved credits that, if not exactly badges of full success, are adequate tokens of conformity to things-as-they-are.

Unwanted apparently are bottom level writers-- including actual literary radicals, those who've challenged the system, or written polemics outside the bounds of the domesticated "literary" art.

What we see in Occupy Writers is Feldman and Sharlet catering to Power. They've done the very thing the Occupy movements are protesting against.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Kind of Revolution Is It?


What does democracy look like?

If you want to see what co-optation looks like, see the list of big names at

Many of these people are the most privileged writers in America.

The 99%? Where?

The last time I saw many of these same aristocrats, they were running over downtrodden writers with their carriages.

These folks have been literature's snobby aristo class, holding swanky soirees in modern-day palaces. To the protests, petitions, and revelations of corruption of the Underground Literary Alliance they erected a wall of hostility. Many of them verbally and even physically attacked us-- or had their security people deal with us. Now the same people are suddenly outside the palace, manning the barricades. The very same crowd! They shift stances as easily as changing cloaks. For them, it's really that simple. Being in control is all.

Their most hilarious moment is a tweet from Thomas Beller suggesting an Occupy Hamptons, with rich writers and publishers like Jason Epstein involved. Uh, Tom, the Hamptons are solidly in the top 1% of America. maybe the top 0.01%. Who will they protest against? Themselves? What's next? Occupy Fisher's Island?

I write this as one who's fought against plutocrats and media monopolies for years, and paid a price for it.

The originators of Occupy Writers-- Jeff Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth College, and Kiera Feldman, a recent Brown University grad-- seem well-intentioned. Their associations with top 1% colleges, however, indicate they live in a closed world. They may not understand the realities of how the cultural system operates. They're certainly not among the great unwashed.

If they support democracy, will they support democracy in literature?

How many of the big talents on their list ever-- EVER-- write about the themes of the Occupy protests, namely greed, corruption, and class?

Francine Prose? Rick Moody? "Lemony Snicket" aka Daniel Handler? Handler is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and was also one of the ULA's most persistent foes, working to discredit us at every turn. Keith Gessen? Gessen was lately observed celebrating the very UNeven playing field of American literature in the pages of a conglomerate magazine, Vanity Fair, which is devoted to the celebration of wealth. These persons and many others on the list are the literary 1%. Literary aristocrats.

What kind of revolution is this?

Can anyone answer?
To read tales of class in America now, pick up my Mood Detroit. To read a manic noir take on corruption, read Crime City USA. The e-books are available for 99 cents each at Nook or Kindle. Can you afford it?

Question for Occupy Writers


Are you for democracy in literature; against corruption, hierarchy, and monopoly?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I'm working on three stories about the established literary world which indicate the amount of duplicity, phoniness, and corruption among them has risen to an unprecedented level. A manure pile. It's not just a rigged game. It's a cynical and malicious rigged game.

Crime City USA is not as over-the-top as I thought!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Good vs. Evil


Crime City USA, my newest e-book, doesn't follow postmodernist theory. It believes in retro concepts of good and evil, right and wrong-- and depicts those concepts through character and plot. The chief villain, Fake Face, could be a metaphor for the duplicitous thinking and corrupt behavior which rules the established literary world today.

Art is truth.

Have you read Crime City USA?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Protesting Plutocracy": a short story

"Protesting Plutocracy"


In the sterling office of the pseudo-intellectual literary journal n+1, staffers read on their phones and iPads about the "Occupy Wall Street" protests taking place. The staffers carry studied faces of hip concern. Being a literary intellectual is serious business. It takes work.

"Why can't we do something like that?" a staffer asks. "To show our affinity with the protests would increase our credibility. After all, we're supposed to be Social Democrats, aren't we?"

"Yes! Social Democrats!" a colleague affirms.

"Indubitably! Social Democrats!" a third voice agrees.

Heads among the others nod affirmatively.

"But, but what can we protest?" they ask themselves.

A large sign on a wall in the office says, "THINK URBAN," reminding them they're no longer behind the exclusive gates of yale, Columbia, or Harvard. This is Brooklyn. Their Ivy League preppiness, the ascots, bow ties, and cocktail dresses that might be found in a similar office, like the office of New Criterion, for instance, have been left behind.

"Well," one of them decides, "we might protest plutocracy in the literary realm. After all, that's our field, isn't it? We could make that our focus."

"Yes. It's only natural," a second staffer affirms.

It's only indubitably correct and right," a third staffer agrees.

Heads of others nod affirmatively.

"But, but, how do we possibly go about it?"

They sit stoically but glumly for several minutes, waiting for other ideas to arise. Being intellectual is serious work.

"I know! I know!" an inspired young woman says. "Let's ask Chad!"

"Yes! Chad!"

They knock on the door of the office belonging to the journal's brainiac, Chad. The most serious thinker on a staff of serious thinkers. Inside, the man meditates, Franzen-like, in a tiny room filled with pigeons and other winged creatures. But no cellphones! It's a cellphone-free office. The birds look hopefully at the new visitors to the small space. In serious tones the visitors explain their dilemma to the serious man.

(To read the entire tale, including its shocking conclusion, click on the link below.)

Occupy Philly Update

-Today I noticed a more noticeable smell around the occupation site.
-I didn't see the hunger strike guy around this morning. I hope not to see him at McDonald's!
-I'm impressed by the apparent key people at the sight. Their enthusiasm and sincerity is contagious.
-The authorities' mistake was letting the protest grab such a key site-- right at City Hall. From their perspective, they should've given them a location more on the margins of town. One never knows how things will develop.
-For the other perspective, the protestors need a plan for increasing the momentum. A rebellion can't be static. It can't stand still. It has to keep moving forward. Its next steps should be plotted out. Playing things by ear doesn't work. Instead: stage-by-stage. Step-by-step. Increase the footprint and the noise. Otherwise inertia takes hold. A movement needs to keep moving or it's dead.

Ahead of the Zeitgeist

The Underground Literary Alliance was several years ahead of the zeitgeist. We were protesting plutocracy before protesting plutocracy became popular. Because of its record of integrity and action, if the ULA were around today it would have unmatched credibility among writers groups on questions of protest and change.

Monday, October 10, 2011



MUCH has been made of the book and movie “Moneyball,” about the Oakland Athletics baseball team ten years ago trying to compete with the mighty New York Yankees.

Ho hum. No biggie.

Examine instead the history of the Underground Literary Alliance.

The Oakland A’s were members of an exclusive club. They already had a seat at the table. Their budget was one-fourth or one-fifth that of the Yankees.

The ULA’s budget was 1/1000th or less than that of our competitors. We clashed with ultra-powerful ultra-rich hyper-millionaires like Dave Eggers and Daniel Handler, and with the monopolies that backed them. We had no credentials, no connections, no money, and no standing.

Yet we achieved great publicity, presented larger-than-life personalities, and sent vibrations of change through the Monolith. We panicked many at Official Lit’s highest levels. We were the most exciting phenomenon that’d happened in the literary world in decades, as evidenced by our shows and protests—historic events like our debate with The Paris Review at CBGB’s in 2001, or our crash of a “Howl” celebration at Columbia University five years later. History the literary establishment doesn’t want you to know. Our every appearance created buzz. We weren’t just underdogs. We were under-under-under-underdogs. Explosively radical to the max.

Where’s the movie?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Dispatch from the Philadelphia Protests


Many questions are raised by the rise of the “Occupy” protests across the country—the same kinds of questions that were raised about the Tea Parties. Legitimate questions.

Such as: Where are the protests headed? What are the objectives? Do they have leaders? Will the protests be co-opted? Infiltrated?

Due to my past experiences at the center of a protest movement—the notorious Underground Literary Alliance—I’m uniquely positioned to assess and speak about these matters. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Occupy Philly Protest Saturday

Who better to cover the Occupy Philadelphia actions than America's most radical-- at least most contentious-- writer?

Here's a shot of the protestors right before the start of the march to Independence Mall. I have other photos of the day's events. I have a few of them up on a separate page linked to the left. See "Photo Gallery." Stay posted for more reports. We may be living in interesting times.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Crime City USA!

WHAT?  Gang wars.

WHERE?  A violent American city.

WHO?  Mysterious disguised figure Fake Face.

WHY?  Hyper-pulp fiction, next wave pop literature.

HOW?  E-book.

HOW MUCH?  99 cents at Nook or Kindle.

Noir Quotes

Here are a couple quotes from esteemed Columbia professor Ann Douglas, who was present on stage among the powerful when Jelly Boy the Clown and I crashed an event in 2006 at Columbia's Miller Hall.

"--noir offers a map of subversion."

"Noir is a critique of power. . . . Power and money are ugly and they rule."

Really? You don't say?

Pick up my new noir e-book Crime City USA at Kindle or Nook.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Why Ultra-Noir?

Why did I write an ultra-noir short novel like Crime City USA, now available through e-book?

I suppose because my experience running the Underground Literary Alliance increased my cynicism and hardened my vision. No way out. In noir fiction there's no way out.

Enablers of the Monolith

It's sad to see hapless writer-wannabes who don't have one-in-ten-thousand chance of getting a six-figure contract gushing over Chad Harbach's "struggles" and the Keith Gessen Vanity Fair article about them. Reality check: Harbach edited Harvard's literary journal, as did Gessen. These guys are connected to the max. The door was always open for Harbach, waiting for him to walk through it.

The herd of bourgeois wannabes see before them many illusory doors, leading nowhere. The real door is closed-- though I suppose they could knock very loudly upon it, if they find it among the others.

For those few writers like myself who've challenged the corrupt system, there's no door at all. Only a blank concrete monolithic wall.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


My newest e-book is out and available for sale. Namely, Crime City USA, an early version of which had previously appeared at one of my other blogs.

Buy it now for 99 cents at Kindle or Nook.

The Entrepreneur

When it comes to job creation, one Steven Jobs is worth a half-dozen U.S. Presidents.

The question: Who's going to innovate in the art of literature? Who'll create a more fun, accessible, user-friendly artistic product?

My new e-book is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Where's Melissa?

Does the fictional character Melissa Bluebird make an appearance in the new issue of The New Yorker?

See for yourself.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Most Dangerous Creative Writer in America

It's so. I'm the one writer the literary establishment most fears. The truth of my ideas, along with my independence and my fearlessness, are too much for them to handle.
Read the novelette "Bluebird," part of the e-book Mood Detroit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I note that one of my recent promo mailings caught the attention of Elizabeth Spiers, Editor of the prestigious Manhattan newspaper, New York Observer:

Thanks for the post, Elizabeth. But, er, you were supposed to read my book!

(Though Ms. Spiers refuses to read Mood Detroit, YOU have the opportunity to purchase the new e-book of striking fiction for a mere 99 cents at Nook or Kindle. See what Elizabeth Spiers is missing. Pop fiction is new art.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Squirrels at Rittenhouse

Rittenhouse Square is a pleasant little park of grass, trees, sidewalks and park benches set in Center City Philadelphia. The square is surrounded on all sides by towers of condos inhabited by the wealthy. Yet all kinds of people hang out at the square.

You used to see a lot of squirrels in the park. Bold squirrels. Assertive squirrels. They'd jump right onto your park bench to beg for one of those peanuts you hand in your hand! Heavens.

The squirrels weren't asking for a whole lot. Squirrels have to live also. Besides, I'd bet that squirrels inhabited that landscape before refined mankind came around.

Lately, I've seen no squirrels in Rittenhouse Square. Not a one of them.

Can we surmise that squirrels became irritating to the rich gentry who live around the square, and that the exterminators were called?

The irony is that you can bet that these very same gentry are animal lovers. No doubt they donate tax-deductible money to a variety of animal causes, from wolves in Colorado to elephants in Africa. They love animals, these good liberal people. As long as those animals aren't in their own backyard.

You can choose the analogy you want. A hundred are out there. Prosperous liberal people move in somewhere and take ownership, bringing with them their rules of cleanliness and order.

I prefer to use the analogy of what's happened to American literature. We see not populists, but pseudo-populists. Elitists with a populist pose. The authentic voice has been displaced. After a time, the very existence of the authentic voice becomes intolerable.

The Underground Literary Alliance was treated like bothersome squirrels by the literary establishment. Yes, the fine Members of the Club are all "progressives," "social democrats," and the like-- they'll tell you so themselves-- but our grubby hungry presence just became, well, intolerable! Call the exterminators.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Publishing Is Like. . . .

In a celebration of Keith Gessen's paean to conglomerate publishing, "How a Book Is Born," blogger Michael Pokocky states that "publishing is like Investment Banking." Apparently Pokocky is an investment banker himself.

Is Michael Pokocky spot on? God help us!

At least his conclusion is promising. Yes, we need a new model.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who's Afraid of "Bluebird"?

I've mailed a modest amount of promo material to select locations within the media establishment. The mailings announce my e-books, particularly the story, "Bluebird," part of Mood Detroit. The high-placed literary crowd refuses to read "Bluebird." Why is that?

I've long been scorned by those who run Literature. The dominant narrative created about the ULA and myself in our heyday was that we're not writers. Not writers! This justified shutting us out. It was the accepted reason we were blackballed.

This same crowd, then, won't read my actual work. They can't read it. They're terrified of it, lest they find their narrative to be false. Lest they discover to their chargrin and horror I'm a very good writer after all.

Who's Covering the Recession?

Who in today's literary world is covering America's severe recession? Anyone?

Read hipster lit-journals like The Believer and n+1 and you'll see not a hint of America's problems. The literary caste in its insularity doesn't know economic problems exist. Tragic stories take place throughout the land. They see none of it.

You can bet if they did cover the recession, it would be in the most constipated pseudo-intellectual way possible, no pain or anger visible. The lits' pristine innocence would remain untouched.

ON THE OTHER HAND, the subtext of the new e-book Mood Detroit is America here and now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writers Rich and Poor

A short essay of mine, "A Tale of Two Literary Worlds," has been posted at the citizen journalist website Inewp, at

I wrote the article after looking at the current issue of Vanity Fair at a magazine stand. Though I opened the issue because Angelina Jolie was on the cover, I found inside an essay by Keith Gessen of n+1 instead!

Keith Gessen's subject is Chad Harbach's novel, The Art of Fielding, but he also examines today's publishing world. I was struck by the narrowness of Gessen's viewpoint. I had to respond.

Is Melissa Bluebird Zooey Deschanel?


You would think so if you heard "Rave On," the Starbucks compilation of Buddy Holly covers. Listen to "Oh Boy!" by She and Him, which features Zooey Deschanel on vocals. That's Melissa Bluebird, that voice, right there. Then, for contrast, listen to "Heartbeat" by the Detroit Cobras on the same cd, vocals by Rachel Nagy. The two songs encapsulate my theme. While Zooey may not have been my original model, she shows the relevance of the character.

"Bluebird" is part of Mood Detroit, available on e-book.

About Detroit Rock

Is it a coincidence that the best songs on "Rave On," the Starbucks tribute album to Buddy Holly, have Detroit connections?

With some exceptions (see Nick Lowe), the other covers on the album range from the forgettable to the lamentable to the execrable. In the latter category put the disappointing Paul McCartney and Modest Mouse contributions.

Maybe Detroit musicians are better able to capture Holly's roots-rock authenticity.

This includes "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," by Karen Elson, produced by Jack White. It includes "Well All Right" by Kid Rock. It includes "Words of Love" by Patti Smith, who lived for many years in the Detroit area. Best of all is "Heartbeat" by the Detroit Cobras, the best rock n' roll band-- and best kept secret-- on the planet.

(Originally posted at the Detroit Literary blog.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Illusion

Publications like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker create the illusion of American literature. American literature is what they say it is, because they say it. They say it often enough that people believe it. Even though they represent a tiny fraction of American writers. Not the best of them either. Definitely not the most independent and original of them.

What this crowd carries is the biggest megaphone.

(Read Mood Detroit.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bluebird Mystery Continues

Although they're not reading "Bluebird," part of the e-book Mood Detroit, I suspect that literary mandarins have met Melissa Bluebird. I believe they know the person quite well.

About the Underground

It's hard to believe that four years ago, the underground was still a player in the literary game. Now its writers are dead or dropped-out, buried in the ground or living in ratholes, protesting in whispers against a hurricane of neglect.

The Truth About the Truth

"Gimme some truth."  -John Lennon

The truth about the American literary world is that writers aren't allowed to speak the truth about it. Few dare criticize the system itself. The system is stratified, hierarchical, incestuous, but to point this out risks offending the power brokers of that system, without whose beneficent glance the writer doesn't stand a chance.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cozzens and Hobsbawm

Two of my favorite authors are American conservative novelist James Gould Cozzens and Leftist historian Eric Hobsbawm. They come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet have much in common which makes them both a worthwhile reading experience. They both think with intense clarity-- they're from an era where intellectual clarity was a given. Both have a high level of intelligence which enables them to see and understand the world in its particular but also as a whole. The systems which comprise civilization are to them not a blur. They see the "Machine" from different viewpoints-- but at least they see it.

Most of all what makes both men important writers is their honesty. Honesty which makes them upfront about their biases, which enables the reader to allow for that slant, that bias, and adjust assessment of what they say accordingly. It's an honesty which allows Hobsbawm in The Age of Extremes to explain how the Soviet Union's "really existing socialism" was unfit for a late-Twentieth century world. An honesty which compels Cozzens in Guard of Honor to show the corruption and incompetence within a U.S. military bureaucracy which he's attempting to laud.

Understanding reality is like looking at a mountain. To truly know the mountain you can't see just one face of it. You need to see it from a number of different perspectives. This means reading and understanding a variety of viewpoints. The viewpoints are worth knowing if they're expressed with honesty, clarity, and intelligence-- a rare thing nowadays.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Does Background Matter?

In Mood Detroit I detail the backgrounds of several of the characters-- particularly the two leads of "Bluebird." Rock musicians Melissa Bluebird and Alexandra Skarzki bring with them very different attitudes toward the band and their art, attitudes formed by their respective histories. By presenting a look at those histories, I seek to create a more rounded artwork. We can't know, we can't see this society unless we look at it from different angles.

We're products of background and will more than heredity. We're amorphous ectoplasms until molded by learning and experience.

In other words, there's no possible way Melissa could be Alex, or Alex, Melissa, though superficially the two women could seem the same.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

"Heart Warming"

As far as I'm concerned, the kiss of death for any art is to be labeled "heart warming." It conjures images of Norman Rockwell, Sominex, and warm milk. Status quo bland. The last thing I want to create are writings which are "heart warming."

The three tales in my e-book Mood Detroit challenge the reader to think about this country, and maybe also about the nature of artists and art. They have emotion in them. I hope none of them is "heart warming."

Monsoon Season

The nonstop rains we've been hit with are killing me. Nothing is worse in this society than being sick and broke.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What's Middlebrow?

Why would Louis Menand in The New Yorker (9/5/11) dredge up a term, "middlebrow," which made limited sense fifty years ago and makes none now?

Faux-radical Dwight MacDonald invented the categorization in the 1950's as a way to attack novelist James Gould Cozzens. MacDonald never explained with precision what the term meant.

Was Cozzens's Guard of Honor middlebrow? The novel is complex, knowledgeable, intelligent, subtle, challenging, and difficult. Ultimately, it has more to say about the creation of American empire than any novel written. High-brow? Not really. The work is grounded in real situations and people. It presents intelligence rather than intellectualism. But in no way could it be called middlebrow.

Is Jonathan Franzen's Freedom middlebrow? The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach?

We're in vague territory. Categorizations according to "brow"-- perception and pose-- are more about standings within the society of letters than about works of literature themselves.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

More About Mood Detroit

The writing style of the three tales in Mood Detroit may look different to the standard literary reader from the norm. Pop fiction is a different way of looking at literature and the world. I've added several paint daubs to the narratives. My intention was to create paintings using words. The three "paintings" in the e-book present an overall argument-- a justification for DIY. They say, there is more than one way to be an artist, a writer, a musician. Art is for everybody.

Detroit makes an apt setting for this statement.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mood Detroit

I have a new e-book available for sale, Mood Detroit. Three strong mini-novels. Their subject is artists, struggle, and love. Tales from a permanent recession. Ridiculously affordable. Kindle or Nook. Buy it now.

Recession? What Recession?

A few people remain untouched by economic events. The big news in the publishing world while I've been off-line is the $650,000 advance received for The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, an editor at n + 1.


Does Fox News commentator Juan Williams truly believe he's "muzzled"?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Programming Update

It seems I burned out my little el cheapo Netbook while writing on it at my place during this past weekend's 100-degree heat wave. I have no air-conditioning. I was working up two new e-books. Oh well! Looks like I'm taken out of the ballgame-- which I haven't really been in of late anyway.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Descent Into Mindlessness


When last seen on the topic, I was engaged in a short debate at a post at the literary hipster site HTML Giant when my hapless opponents quickly scampered for cover. Though the post received 233 comments-- most in a day or two before I jumped in-- said post was quickly taken down from the site's list of "Popular Posts." HTML Giant is as committed to free and open debate as is the rest of the literary establishment-- which means, not very committed to it at all.

The subject of the debate was the embrace by today's so-called literary intellectuals of nonsense.

Later, at HTML Giant came another post which proved my points. Here:

Andrew James Weatherhead gives his self-referential take on a post at another hipster site, Montevidayo. The post he celebrates, "Influence=Deformation Zone," by aptly named Joyelle McSweeney, is loaded with Academy Speak. "Gender," "patrilineage," "heterosexist," "reproductive futurism," "linear notions of temporality," and so on. Joyelle McSweeney is clearly a person unable to think other than in the code words she ingested in the university.

Would anyone who'd not been through university indoctrination think and speak in this manner?

What passes for ideas from her, is a rejection of reality. Joyelle scorns "reproductive futurism," apparently not understanding that every living organism on this planet reproduces itself-- all life is reproduction; nature is reproduction-- without reproduction there is no future. As "sexist," oppressive, etc., as reproduction is, there's no way to do away with it and have any existence.

For those who live in a world of nonsense it doesn't matter.

The next step is to reject the law of causation: "that what comes before causes what comes after." Causation is not only an inescapable part of our world, and likely of the entire universe, but it's also the essential foundation of the tale; the story. The fundamental basis and justification for what's become known as literature.

What happens next? McSweeney, Weatherhead, and their ilk don't want to know.

It's part of a philosophy of intentional ignorance. Which explains a lot. Our programmed intellectuals have been trained not to notice much of anything, even when it concerns themselves. So, college students compile enormous personal debts, the cost of education continually rises, all the while campuses expand around them, gleaming new buildings on all sides, purchases of more real estate by the institutions, pushing out, in many cases, such as at U of Penn and Columbia, long-time ethnic neighborhoods. Our intellectuals who are paying so much for the privilege of becoming intellectuals can make no connection. No links acceptable. After all, that would be to accept causation, patrilineage, etc., and that won't do.

This is called, in layman's terms, being a sucker.

Much the same can be said about the current debt crisis, about which their generation will become, necessarily, the Bag Holders. (Boomers are only beginning to retire. Americans are living longer than ever. The demographics are inescapable. But-- do our young intellectuals really want to live in the real world? No signs of it.)

Andrew James Weatherhead applauds Joyelle McSweeney's rejection of "traditional ideas lineage." How far do they wish to take that? Will they reject sentences? The alphabet? Language?

"Influence should be open to be whatever you want it to be--"

Yet when you examine their stated influences, they're always influences approved by the literary establishment at that particular point of time, from Agamben to Sebald to Robbe-Grillet to Roberto Bolano. (Bolano was ignored by U.S. intellectuals until he died and one of the major book conglomerates began publishing and hyping his work. Our herd of pseudo-intellectuals quickly got in line.)

An American writers group, the Underground Literary Alliance-- whose literary influences came from an entirely different source-- found throughout its existence that U.S. literature's pseudo-intellectuals weren't at all as open as they pretend. The ULA instead was the target of their attacks, including from leading lit-hipster figures and leading lit-hipster pseudo-intellectual publications like The Believer. The ULA's activist campaign began in 2001 with a full-page article in the Village Voice titled "Start Making Sense." Pseudo-Intellectuals may be open to many things. Making sense is scarcely one of them.

What literary hipsters, especially of the pseudo-intellectual variety, are about is pose. The pose is all.

Joyelle McSweeny calls for thinking outside structures and strictures. Yet, McSweeney made sure to acquire her proper hierarchical degrees from the proper linear educational system, from giant institutions which, um, are structures which set down a great many strictures, including about literature. So did Andrew James Weatherhead, no doubt. As did likely most if not all of the entire lit-hipster crowd.

Are they intellectual frauds?

They appear to be pets of the current literary system, following, in linear fashion, all the rules, step-by-step. They exist within a cage yet assure themselves that they're free. The actual structure and production of literature, from overpriced writing programs to government/non-profit funding to the giant book conglomerates isn't a concern. This multi-layered system isn't addressed. It's hardly looked at. When you have the sense of an ant, such a notion is incomprehensible.

Joyelle's much-applauded essay, which starts from a point of nonsense, can go in only one direction, linear or not. It devolves into incomprehensible jargon:

"I use a term for this mutagenic zone; stealing a phrase from the Swedish poet Aase Berg, I call it the deformation zone. Translation is the ultimate manifestation of Art’s deformation zone, for entering yourself in Art’s mutagenic properties, for being entered and altered and destroyed, if necessary, by Art’s rogatives. Translation is anachronistic, it happens in real time and across time; it happensbackwards; it changes he who takes and he who gives; no boundaries can stand up to this innundation; everything is rendered a membrane by translation. Translation is bio-identical to Art’s influence, spreads and eats and leaks more tets, more Art. It makes too many versions, breeds new hybrid languages, and obscures priority. . . ."

And so on. It reads like the scrawl of a severely brain-damaged person.

Situation hopeless.

(NOTE: Joyelle McSweeney has a B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard, a graduate degree from Oxford University, and an MFA from Iowa. She teaches English at Notre Dame University. Andrew Weatherhead is an MFA student at the New School.)