A history of literateurs manque run amok

From “Notes on the Death of Literary Terrorism,” by Sean Carman:

The avant-garde literary guerilla faction “The Underground Literary Allegiance” emerged as a group of 9 revolutionary writers who had previously styled themselves, “the Underground Literary Alliance.” Before that, they were a cabal of 15 known as “The Movement for Heightened Sensivity to Literature,” and before that a group of 21 called, “Becky Robertson’s Writing Group.” Before that, even, they were a group of 50 known as the “New York University Adult Education Introduction to Fiction Workshop, Fall Term, 1992.”

Mr. Carman provides a brief history of the ULA’s tactics (“They threw orange slices at John Irving during his commencement speech at Mary Hale College in Laconia, New Hampshire. They solicited free-verse poetry from Fidel Castro for the inaugural issue of their un-named literary quarterly.”) before describing the group’s fall:

The turning point came that September, with the notorious “Attack on P.S. 27.” More desperate than ever to leave a legacy, they conceived a plan to enlist the next generation in their cause. Whether they chose Ms. Arlene Fisher’s afternoon story-time class because of its heady Upper-West Side demographic, or because it was reachable from Queens by the M1, history does not record. But we do know the expedition proved momentous for this most influential of literary monoliths, not counting of course Oprah, or the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, or the list of everyone who’s ever written for the McSweeney’s website.

Ms. Fisher’s students had just finished their afternoon snack of graham crackers and warm milk, and were settled into their accustomed places on the carpet in contented anticipation of that day’s reading of “My Friend Flicka,” Mary O’Hara’s sentimental tale of a young boy’s determination to tame a wild but beautiful colt, when ULA alternate Vice-Co-Leader Carl “Crass” King slammed open the classroom door and accused the students before him of pandering to the sensibilities of the “self-obsessed New York literary elite.”


Comments are closed.