Happy America Literature


Friday, June 20, 2014

Latest News

For the moment I’m putting on hold ideas of restarting the Underground Literary Alliance. I’ll soon be involved in another literary project with different tactics and somewhat different goals. At the same time I encourage other former ULAers to restart the ULA campaign themselves. Or at least, I won’t oppose such endeavors.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Getting It Right

WITH THE FIRST VERSION of the Underground Literary Alliance there was clearly a mismatch between reality and hype. The presentation was kickass. The products and writings were a different reality. By our zine background, we were basically quirky. The writing and look we showed was in line with this. But our hype, in order to attract attention, had been extreme. We had a punk element to ourselves, but not enough of it. For instance, the logic behind the name of our house zine, Slush Pile, was sound—embracing the criticism to defuse it. In hindsight, we needed more. “19th Street Murder” or such would’ve been more attention getting.

Our “look” was low-rent pop. To fit the reputation we needed to be edgier. I was edging toward this by 2004 or so with one of my own small projects, Literary Fan Magazine.

literary fan mag

No longer completely “pop,” but requiring more edge.

The writing? “Pop” writing which people enjoy reading, and can read, is a necessity. It’s a start. The trick will be to do more than that.

I think about this often.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The New ULA Part I

The new Underground Literary Alliance will run on fanatical commitment. It will be more akin to a religious order than a writers group. That’s the only way to combat the Cult of McSweeney’s and other ruthless establishment fronts.

We’d need to be like an order of medieval knights, eager for cultural crusade. Knights for the renewal of art.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Authenticity or Fakery?


Authenticity: Texas writer Wild Bill Blackolive:


Fakery: Lit-establishment darling John Hodgman:


Friday, February 8, 2013

ULA Looking for Shit Disturbers!

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.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fake Genuine

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.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New ULA Media Room

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.)