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.)