Authenticity: Texas writer Wild Bill Blackolive:
Fakery: Lit-establishment darling John Hodgman:
THE POSITIVE MESSAGE OF NEW AMERICAN ART AND LITERATURE
ONE of the reasons ULA 1.0, the first version of the Underground Literary Alliance, failed was that it was too nice. We had too many moderates in the organization, who naively believed that simply by asking for it, we would receive a level playing field from our artistic enemies. It’s not how anything in this ruthlessly-run society is played.
We needed more of what we advertised we were: balls-to-the-wall and in-your-face radical writers determined to change a creaky and corrupt artery-hardened literary scene which for decades has been aesthetically stuck in concrete, unable and unwilling to change while the world outside their stuffy empire moved at a quickening pace.
If you snoozily dawdle along with your carefully crafted “literary” writing while listening to the monotone voices of NPR—we don’t want ya. We’d rather have you driving your creations and your lives at 100 miles an hour. We want your voices and minds up to the hyperspeed pace of this insane civilization. Then we want you applying that energy and wit against the deadened artifact rest home museum known as the literary mainstream.
WHAT distinguished the Underground Literary Alliance from the rest of the literary scene, and caused amid that scene untold anxiety, is that we weren’t pretending. We were, for the most part, authentic grass roots writers. My God, look at Wild Bill Blackolive. He never changed a comma of his prose for anyone. Never sold out. A stand-up, straight shooter.
The literary hipsters who opposed the ULA, on the other hand, at places like McSweeney’s and n+1, were all about the pose of authenticity. It’s pretend with them. And so, Dave Eggers will pretend to be indie, and the n plus one gang will claim to be populists, even rebels, but neither camp will give up their elite status and their relationships to power; so the clothes they wear, the fashion they adopt—their ideas are nothing if not fashion—mean nothing.
The Underground Literary Alliance has a new media room, of sorts, at the twitter handle @ULANews. Once the outfit gets going again, this will be the place to find the latest announcement. When things happen, they’ll happen fast, so stay tuned.
(Undergrounders and literary rebels can send any of their own updates there, and if properly kickass and exciting, we’ll retweet them.)
When re-reading an article on the infamous Amazon glitch, discussed here--
-- I realize what a balls-to-the-wall writers group the Underground Literary Alliance was in 2004, and in some ways remains. We took on literature’s biggest, most powerful names—lit’s Big Money Boys—exposing their corruption for the world to see. It’s no wonder we were 99% destroyed! But we were fearless. We created hysteria within the clubby corrupt walls of the established literary scene. I suspect that if we ever got going again, they’d be as panicked. Their hostility toward us to this day comes because they await, with abject fear, our return.
The egregious 11/27/12 Oxford American book review smear by Johannes Lichtman was absolutely a victory for the dormant but still latently powerful Underground Literary Alliance.
The book review is a display of an esteemed literary publication shitting all over itself. A ten year old can see the review for the smear job it is. This gives literary renegades a shorthand way of pointing to the corruption of the literary establishment. Simply give the link, and add that Oxford American editor Roger D. Hodge is best buddies with Tom Bissell. It’s like instant oatmeal. Add water and stir.
Second, the fact of the review shows that the literary establishment remains terrified of the ULA and what it stands for. Terrified enough to blackball us and slam us. Too terrified to engage us.
Third, the fact of any literary rebellion anywhere is a victory for free speech and the reform of our nation’s decayed literature. One literary rebel is one rebel too many for blackballing literary totalitarians like Dave Eggers. “The Dave” and his colleagues at The Believer made it clear at the outset that they’re against literary dissent and disagreement. They’re opposed to everything which makes literature vital. What they want: The blank-minded McSweeney’s Smiley Face. “Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”
Given today’s lobotomized literary world, the existence of a satirical novel like The McSweeneys Gang is a huge victory for free expression. It’s a blow against all literary totalitarians. Assuredly no one of the timid establishment mice who today call themselves writers and reviewers will review the ebook.
Reading the novel then becomes in itself a blow for the rescue of American literature.
Buy The McSweeneys Gang by King Wenclas at Nook or Kindle now!
ULA 2.0 will retain only fragments of the previous incarnation. It’ll be as comparable to the older version as a jet to a biplane. Throw out all past narratives about us, including our own. We’ll write new ULA history and new literary history. If you think you know us, you don’t—and won’t.