IT TOOK me a long time to realize, during my activities with the Underground Literary Alliance, that the literary establishment treated all criticism of itself as a fight to the death. For the mandarins and their flunkies, everything is allowable to maintain their turf. This includes smearing, lying, blackballing—all the corrupt ingenuity of these limited folks is called upon to prevail. The bureaucratic mindset: Their loyalty isn’t to truth, but to the system of which they’re part.
The threat the ULA offered was of two kinds. First, to make pop writing more vital and relevant to the larger society. Second, to have pop writing at its best accepted as legitimate literature.
The status quo “literary” scene is shrinking in size and power. Its art is decayed. The scene sits like a dying, unthinking animal, still capable of blindly, ruthlessly lashing out.