Culture Wars, Literature, Top Stories

A Glimpse Into the Ideological Monoculture of Literary New York

In the Spring of 2016, I fell into a conversation with my brother about how automation and artificial intelligence were making many forms of human labor obsolete. It wasn’t just an economic problem, I observed: Without meaningful work to do, a lot of us would fall victim to boredom and vice.

My brother, an oncologist, countered that people would simply have to work harder to cultivate the diminishing number of jobs that machines couldn’t do. When he cited his own occupation as an example, I pointed out that in 20 years, AI-enabled computers might be able to make better medical decisions than he could. (In some areas of medicine, this is already happening.) He disagreed. But out of our discussion came my idea for a soon-to-published novel, set in 2036, about Henri, a wealthy doctor at risk of having his job taken by a robot.

As Quillette writer Gabriel Scorgie noted recently, it’s become difficult for beginning writers to get book contracts. But I dove in, nonetheless. At the time, I was living in Albuquerque, NM, working for a solar energy company where my job prospects didn’t seem particularly bright. A day after taking inspiration from a 2015 episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown about Budapest, I tendered my resignation and bought a one-way ticket for Hungary, figuring that this would be a good place to be an author.

I wrote my novel, eventually titled The Absolved, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, which I followed from overseas. And so politics naturally seeped into the plot. In the book, a fringe populist candidate campaigns on a Luddite agenda, inciting voters to rise up against “the Divine Rights of Machines.” Many of the same issues that troubled supporters of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders—including a lack of meaningful employment, and wage stagnation—still plague Americans in 2036. But now, they’ve gone beyond demagoguing foreigners and immigrants, and are going after machines.

A major theme in my book is that any political or economic system that doesn’t work for the majority of the people cannot be sustained—no matter the moral or theoretical justifications that might otherwise be brought to bear on its behalf. The book’s protagonist (and anti-hero) is a relic from a social and economic order in marked decline—a privileged, middle-aged white male physician (remember, it’s 2036). While Henri may be a fine doctor, he’s a deeply flawed human being in his personal life, and has little compassion for others who’ve been marginalized by the march of technology.

Considering himself one of “destiny’s elect,” Henri complains to his wife after she’s enrolled their son in Sunday School: “It was a long time ago in this country that we tore God from his pedestal, and replaced him not with Satan and his sword, but with a robot capable of teaching itself new skills, completing tasks perfectly and seamlessly, without ever getting tired or complaining.”

As my financial situation in Budapest grew strained, it became clear that I needed to re-enter the workforce. So I returned stateside, this time opting for New York City because, like so many other aspiring creative types, I thought that being at the center of the universe would help me get my work published. By a twist of good fortune, I secured a well-paying position that left me with evenings free to finish my novel. And like every other earnest, ambitious young writer, I tried to immerse myself in New York’s literary scene. I attended readings, parties and book launches—whatever I could do to make inroads. True, I’d heard warnings about the political correctness that pervades this world. But that didn’t trouble me: It’s not as if my own politics are particularly right-wing.

This story ends with a win. My book is being published—even if, like most other writers, I would have liked a fatter contract with wider distribution. But despite that, there is something about my experience among New York’s literati that’s left a bad taste in my mouth. For all the predictable speechifying about “diversity” that I heard at cocktail parties and literary events, I became struck by just how politically monolithic this scene really is. It’s not just that writers and editors have to be PC when it comes to their books and their public pronouncements: There also seems to be a crushing uniformity in regard to their privately held viewpoints.

Just weeks after arriving in the city, I attended a dinner party full of writers and industry folk.  The subject of conversation turned to America—and, in particular, how uniquely racist and evil it is. The term “fascist” was bandied about casually—even in regard to centrist Democrats such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. One attendee described how much more tolerant Canada is, citing the example of a Toronto swimming pool accommodating religiously observant Muslim residents by sex-segregating swimmers at certain times. Everyone at the table agreed that this was a wonderful thing. The conversation then moved on to the television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale—a dystopian science fiction tale that my dinner mates unanimously agreed represented a plausible future for American women. Indeed, some indicated that we already were living this nightmare thanks to Donald Trump.

My efforts to play contrarian did not meet with success—especially when I suggested that encouraging the segregation of Muslim women might be seen in a very different light if the policy had been championed by, say, Mike Pence or Donald Trump. When I cut to the chase and asked why no one at the table seemed to feel aggrieved for women suffering under Islamic oppression, voices were raised and, well, I may or may not have been asked to leave. There were other experiences like this, and I learned to hold my tongue.

This was socially irritating. But, naïvely, I imagined that this ideological monolith wouldn’t affect my book—since my male, white, cis protagonist is a markedly unsympathetic character, and I’m not “appropriating” anyone’s voice. But this prediction proved incorrect.

After reading a passage from my novel at a local literary salon, I was approached by an acquisition’s editor from a prominent independent press. He thought the excerpt showed promise and asked me to email him the full draft manuscript. Not a week passed before he invited me for drinks. Over whiskeys, he said he found the work “original and compelling.” (Writers have a good memory for compliments.) An offer was forthcoming, he said. He just needed to get his boss to sign off on it — “a formality,” apparently. But the offer never came. Instead, the editor forwarded me the email his boss had provided: “We’re not taking on unknown white guys this year.”

An agent (who, to his credit, read my manuscript off the slush pile) scolded me for “bigotry” because the imagined world of 2036 has witnessed a successful Muslim insurrection in France. Another accused me of “misogyny” because the self-absorbed Henri has become less attracted to his aging wife. A third told me that The Absolved was a “terrific read,” but that she couldn’t represent the book because of its “distinctively male voice.” She went on to explain that the fiction-buying audience is mostly female (which I will concede is accurate) and that the book wouldn’t “resonate” with this demographic. Whether or not that is true, it furthered the sense that my book wasn’t being cold-shouldered so much for what it was, as who the author was.

What accounts for this identity-obsessed approach to publishing? Again, Scorgie’s analysis is instructive. Before New York entered its new finance-oriented gilded age, the publishing industry ranked high as a career path among upwardly mobile intellectuals. Working in the industry carried cultural cachet, as tech does today. Some of the best and brightest of past generations made their life’s work in New York offices piled high with manuscripts. But as the city evolved and the industry grew more cash-strapped, the type of intellectual who once found gainful employment in publishing left for other fields. From what I can observe, the candidates whom the industry now attracts are young elite university graduates who are not looking for money or even occupational stability. In many cases, they are former (or future) activists whose primary interest is the promotion of a progressive political agenda, and who are eager to leverage their staff positions at publishers to further that agenda.

According to a newly released analysis of U.S. survey data, only 8% of Americans hold views that mark them as “progressive activists”—versus 92% who may be classified as traditional liberals, moderates, conservatives or “politically disengaged.” Yet the high-end literary world, as I have experienced it in New York, would seem to be almost entirely dominated by, or beholden to, that 8% slice of public opinion—especially when it comes to any issue touching upon immigration, capitalism, multiculturalism or feminism. And it is hard to see how this complete lack of ideological diversity can produce anything except an echo chamber for editors own viewpoints and tastes.

In The Absolved, my protagonist, Henri, states: “Sometimes, when I’m made to suffer through someone parroting the drivel that has become the zeitgeist, I wonder if I should disappear into the desert, silence surely being preferable not only to stupidity but unanimity, as well.”

I’m not going to take Henri’s advice, as I still think the search for truth is a path worth taking. But if you’re wondering why so many of the literary books that are now being published cater to just one narrow sliver of the market, I think my experience over the last two years qualifies as instructive.

Matthew Binder is the author of The Absolved, set for publication by Black Spot Books on December 4, 2018.

 

186 Comments

  1. Gordon Smith says

    Perhaps men will have to write under a pseudonym. I noticed about 15 to 20 years ago my children would read designated books in primary school which was good. What was bad was that they were all boring and about fashionable causes. My three sons all became readers because of books that I introduced to them that had adventure and danger and courage in their characters, things all but banned in Australian schools.

    • MagnusMino says

      “Perhaps men will have to write under a pseudonym.”

      Wouldn’t that be ironic, but in this gynocentric society, there’s already tons of blatantly anti-male discrimination so this will become more common. So much special funding, programs, scholarships, perks that are for “women only”. Hilariously, a man in Alberta claimed to be a woman on his driver’s license (who is the government to argue, to do so is illegal now), in order to pay 1000$ / year less for car insurance. Which is already blatant sexist discrimination, but anyway.

      Things are already so far gone in fiction. A huge chunk of that market comes from a highly efficient racket to sell softcore erotica to prudish housewives too scared to use their computers.

      To wit, an article just out today on this very topic:

      https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/writing-ebook-erotica-romance_us_5be4aaf3e4b0e84388959f4c

      • Jeffrey Dean says

        “It’s nothing serious—the accident, that is—just a crumpled fender and a sore elbow from the impact… more of a nuisance than anything else. I am, after all, a busy man on a tight schedule.”

        Perhaps writing a sniveling piece about how this sub-par work wasn’t published was time and energy that would have better been spent on revisions. The writing itself was stilted and unimaginative, perhaps that played a bigger role than you believe.

    • Rory Mc Closkey says

      20 years ago when raising my sons there was a book in our house called “Kids don’t see colour”. “PC BS” I thought. I was watching Man Utd vs Juventus one night and the teams were lining out. My 3 year old son came in, stood by the telly and asked “Why are their faces black?” There were 2 black players on Utd at the time and none on Juve. I asked him what he meant and he pointed at the unshaven faces of the Italian men. This experience was repeated a year later when there was a street league football tournament on our roads. A 5 year old black kid was crying and I asked him where his Dad was. He looked around and pointed at a group of men 20 yards away saying “The man in the black t-shirt”. The man he was pointing at was the only black man in the group. I was forced to realise that not all PC BS is actually PC BS. I’m ever sceptical of kneejerk reactions, even of my own.

  2. Peter from Oz says

    What an interesting article. I look forward to reading ”Absolved”.
    Is there no Spectator, Literary Review or Daily Telegraph in New York? These institutions, which have a great slice of the market in the UK at least give the opportunity for the 92% to take part in cultural life.
    I have noticed in the last few years that many people in the upper middle classes (UMC) have started to pay more and more lip service to ”progressive” ideas. Even though the vast majority of those people still vote for the conservative politicians, they expect those politicians to care more about ”diversity” and ”equality”. This is reflected by the fact that many corporates are now jumping on the bandwagon and providing diversity quotas or training.
    It would be interesting to see some qualitative research on the change of attitudes by the upper middle classes and the effect that change has on the dynamic of society and the economic position of its citizens.
    Are UMC people subconsciously trying to set the tone as to what is ”elite” and thus preserve their social position without the rest of society noticing?
    Will equality actually improve if the UMC provides impetus for the sovereignty of ”progressive” ideals?
    Will the members of ”victim ” groups ever cease being victims?

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @peter from Oz

      Every revolution sparks a counter revolution. Can you imagine the next generation of punk rockers? They’ll probably wear ties, wingtips, and and scream something along the lines of “nuclear families forever!” or “f&&& your victimhood!” 😂

      • Peter from Oz says

        C&B
        ”They’ll probably wear ties, wingtips, and and scream something along the lines of “nuclear families forever!” or “f&&& your victimhood!”
        Yes, they’ll be like Sapphie in Absolutely Fabulous, all sensible shoes and condoms.

      • Peter from Oz says

        C&B
        ”They’ll probably wear ties, wingtips, and and scream something along the lines of “nuclear families forever!” or “f&&& your victimhood!”

        Yes. I can just see them raiising teir little fingers as an ”up yours” gesture when they drink their tea out of Royal Doulton tea cups

      • Jimbrock says

        Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Now where did I hear that before?

    • Ray Andrews says

      @peter from Oz

      A minor quibble: ‘equality’ is now replaced with ‘Equity’. Just about all Victims have achieved equality before the law decades ago, and we now see several classes of Victims actively discriminated for, which is blatantly not ‘equal’ but it is Equitable, the latter being deliciously harder to define.

      “Will the members of ”victim ” groups ever cease being victims?”

      It seems to be possible. Jews pretty much had Victim status until some time ago, but now they are Oppressors. Homosexuals are loosing status slowly but surely. When I was a kid the Chinese where I live had status, but now they are considered to be just plain Oppressors like white folks. Victimhood is hard to sustain when one has a) achieved success and b) has stopped whining and c) is not disproportionately involved in crime and no one notices it when a cop shoots one of you.

      • C. Summerlin says

        @Ray Andrews 11 people, including a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, were murdered at a baby-naming ceremony in a temple for the crime of Being Jewish. Jewish people are not “Oppressors,” except in the eyes of the sorts of people who would kill 11 people at a baby-naming ceremony.

        • snelson134 says

          And he was a Trump hater who thought Louis Farrakhan was onto something…..

    • Michael Joseph says

      Will members of victims groups ever cease being victims? I don’t know, is it possible to unrape someone?

    • That’s rich, as this whole article is just one big screechy WHINE.

  3. StrawberryGirl says

    Several years ago I’d noticed how bizarre and insular the art world had become. A small cadre of weirdos putting out shock value material that appeals to no one outside of their own bubble. It seems as though this insular attitude has also taken over every aspect of media and entertainment, including t.v. and movies, excluding the few mainstream blockbusters still marketed to the masses. I’m not surprised then that’s how it is in publishing. The end result is a culture that alienates much of society and lots of forgettable, mediocre agitprop that speaks to no one but a few. I really feel sorry for anyone trying to create in today’s environment.

    • It seems to me there are too many artists producing for the amount of art consumed.
      If you dislike the art world or book publishers, do it yourself. Complaining that others don’t appreciate your work is sad and suggests an overvaluation of your personhood compared to the 7.5 billion other humans. Maybe your art or book isn’t that great to others because there’s no shortage of producers.

      • StrawberryGirl says

        It’s as though you didn’t really read my comment but had to say something anyway.

        • Michael Joseph says

          Think about the beginning of the piece. The author’s book is about machines taking jobs, elite jobs. When I have these conversations many people don’t believe it’s around the corner but do agree it’s an eventual progression. What will people do when machines do all the work? The more artist the better.

  4. E. Olson says

    The publishers do have a point. I mean just look at how unsuccessful white guys like Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Michael Crichton have been in writing best selling fiction. It would be crazy to take a chance on a demographic that only represents 30+% of the US market, when they could instead publish a more diverse author who represents 2 or 3%. And if you need further proof of their wisdom, just look at how successful the social justice themes have played in the comic book market.

    • D-Rex says

      “And if you need further proof of their wisdom, just look at how successful the social justice themes have played in the comic book market.”

      I’ve been directly affected on that score, having to cancel a number of titles that had promise but turned into SJW propaganda BS. There was literally an entire issue about Iceman going on a date with his new boyfriend during which the boyfriend told Iceman that he needed to check his “white privilege”. For a collector, it has become quite disheartening.

      • Valerie Finnigan says

        Removing a title from your comicbook pull list is not the same as agents rejecting your novel because of your race and gender. (Yes, rejecting a book because it’s written by a white guy is racist and sexist.) You saved yourself some money. The latter was denied a professional opportunity. He was affected personally. You weren’t. You just decided to stop spending money on something you no longer liked. Stop acting like you’re a victim in this.

        • D-Rex says

          @Valerie
          My response wasn’t really about me and I wasn’t claiming any sort of victim status, merely agreeing with the previous commentator with an anecdote. I am certainly not comparing my disappointment with the plight of the author, I don’t understand why you would suggest that.
          FWIW, I’m not saving money in this, just choosing to spend it on comics I would rather read.

      • of course Iceman would have white privilege. I mean, it mean, have you looked at the color of ice, lately?

    • Richard L Harshman says

      J K Rowling flipped the switch and has written a bunch of Cormoron Strike mysteries under the name of Robert Galbraith. Maybe she is on to something. C. J. Box, Michael Connelly, and John Sanford have also penned a few books. These agents are like sports team owners who insist the majority of their rosters in the NBA and NFL be female. Gonna be a long losing season!

    • Melissa says

      Stephen King wrote a whole book on how hard it is to get published. He had a nail in his wall to spike all the rejection letters he got.

  5. Farris says

    The word presumptuous comes to mind. Lecturing and belittling is evident in most media. People often feel compelled to pontificate on topics they actually know little about. Deference is dead. Listening and learning have been replaced with castigating. Volume infers correctness.
    Platforms are no longer earned. There was a time these people would have been considered blow hards. As my grandfather taught:
    A wise old owl sat in an oak
    The more he saw
    The less he spoke
    The less he spoke
    The more he heard
    Why can’t you be like that wise old bird?

    • Peter from Oz says

      It’s true that being that wise old bird is a good thing for some, but if were all listened and said nothing, then no-one would be speaking and nothing would get done.

      • Farris says

        Grandpa always thought it wiser to listen and learn before speaking. Can’t say I’m surprised that’s no longer considered sound wisdom. I guess that’s why students feel entitled to lecture before they learn.

        • Michael Joseph says

          I find the wisest comments come from children. They have an innate ability to recognize unfairness without having an agenda.

          • Michael Joseph says

            It is when we wish to sway others to our cause that we become self serving and cynical. It is unfair for a child to grow up in poverty. Regardless of your politics and your impatience, if children in your society are born into and grow up in poverty, they are victims.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Farris
      Patriarchal oppression from a DWM! What about self-esteem? What about Equity? What about the Victims? What about the Wimin? The rhyme is cis-centric too.

  6. The author’s thesis that literary New York is overwhelmingly left-wing can be easily — if indirectly — confirmed if you look at the 2016 presidential election results on a precinct by precinct basis in those areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan known to be inhabited by the literati. In these precincts, it’s common to see results that look like this: Clinton 95 percent, Stein 4 percent, Trump 1 percent.

    Don’t believe me? Here’s the URL of a terrific interactive map that gives you the 2016 election results in every precinct in the United States: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/upshot/election-2016-voting-precinct-maps.html#9.75/40.754/-74.172

    Thanks to this map, I found out that even in my precinct in a fairly sleepy Southern college town, 98 percent of my neighbors voted for Hilary. So, now at least I have a number that expresses the oppressive monochromatic vibe of my home town, and that number is 98.

    • Peter from Oz says

      A New Radical Centrism

      DO you think that 98% would have been lower if the Republican candidate was more centrist and less aggressive?

      Also do you think that all Clinton voters are rank progressives? I bet many of them probably detest PC culture just as much as we do, but have a sympathy for the ”oppressed” all the same.

      • @ Peter from Oz

        If the candidate had been a “moderate” Republican (like Romney), maybe Clinton’s vote would have sunk to somewhere in the 90-95 percent range.

        The majority of people in my precinct voted for Sanders in the primary. Virtue signalling abounds: Signs declaring love for Black Lives Matter, illegal immigrants, and gay/trans people are everywhere. My neighborhood is predominantly upper-middle class and 99 percent white. You have to walk on eggshells around these people. The internecine warfare among the Left in my town — as they all try to outdo each other in ideological purity and ritualistic anti-white self-loathing — makes for tragicomic spectacle.

      • E. Olson says

        It may be hard to believe, but Romney, George W. were both unfavorably compared to Hitler by much of the left when they were running/in office. Of course once they are not running against a D for President they become reasonable spokesman for the “mainstream” reasonable center right. Watch the same thing will happen to Trump as he is favorably compared to whatever Republican Hitler is running for the Presidency against Hillary in 2024 or 2028.

        • @ E. Olson

          There was a lot of vitriol for George W, but I don’t recall all that much for Romney, just a sort of light dismissive contempt by those on the left. The only remotely competitive GOP candidates for 2024 that I can see who won’t cause the left to reflexively go into Godwin’s Law territory are Nikki Haley and Paul Ryan.

          • E. Olson says

            You mean the Paul Ryan who was portrayed as pushing granny in her wheelchair over a cliff when he ran as VP in 2012? You mean the Nikki Haley that was (wrongly) accused of having an affair with Trump and spending lavishly on curtains for her UN apartment by the mainstream media? Just a warm-up of what the Left will do if they decide to run for President, which is what “friend of the media” John McCain ran against Obama in 2008.

          • Michael Joseph says

            Hey you guys. Fifty percent of Americans don’t vote. Factor that into all those figures you’re throwing out. You so thin skinned. After three hundred years of oppression and white hegemony you want to wake one morning and say, “Okay everybody is equal now; let’s be friends.” How do marginalized groups know you mean it? You have to respect them and you have to give them fair opportunities. Quit yer dang whining or move on over into the White Supremacy camp where you really want to be.

    • How is this NYTimes data known since votes are secret? If it’s just self-reported, it’s biased.
      Sadly, rank voting is the only way to find out how people actually think. Nobody votes for third parties because they know it’s a throwaway, which of course ensure they never can compete. With rank voting, we’d know if your neighbors actually preferred others and only Hillary more than Trump.

      • @ david of Kirkland

        I think you just had a brain blip, so I’m going to give you a moment to recover.

        You wrote: “How is this NYTimes data known since votes are secret?”

        How would any election ever be decided if vote tallies were kept “secret”? The data on which the interactive map is based don’t show how you or I or any other specific person voted, but they do show the percentage of votes each candidate received in each precinct. Which is what I was talking about. How do you not know this?

        Maybe you’re engaged in irony. I’m stumped.

    • the New York literary establishment has so much bias that the editors of the NY TIMES BOOK REVIEW declined to put 12 RULES FOR LIFE on its nonfiction bestsellers list, despite it selling more than two million copies to date. they came up with the lame excuse that as a book from a Canadian (versus US) publisher, it didn’t count. despite the fact that they have had bestsellers from Canadian publishers on the list before.

  7. jonfrum says

    There is more to the literary world than New York tight-asses. Joe Rogan – of all people – is interviewing authors, including Chuck Palahniuk. And Chuck described being run out of his own workshop group for reading his own work-in-progress about unacceptable’ subjects. The truth is that men would read – including novels – if someone would write a novel they felt spoke to them. Stop trying to feminize men.

  8. Andrew Leonard says

    “An agent … scolded me for “bigotry” because the imagined world of 2036 has witnessed a successful Muslim insurrection in France.”

    I can understand a left-winger having concerns regarding climate change and other environmental issues, stagnant real wages, homelessness, drug addiction, gun violence, the wellbeing of genuine refugees, the lack of universal health insurance, and equal access to educational opportunities, but what is it about defending Islamism that floats their boat?

    What goes on in the mind of these people, who, regardless of their knowledge of Islamic cultures persecution of minorities and other widespread human rights abuses, plus an overwhelmingly patriarchal culture that consistency would suggest they would be highly critical of, instead deem it appropriate to defend these unfortunate cultures, and attack their critics instead?

    What can we ascribe this bizarre behaviour to? Is it pathological altruism? If yes, what in turn explains pathological altruism? Do Christian ethics play a role, or alternatively, have we developed an unrestrained underdogism that supports the weak over the strong, regardless of the distribution and extent of virtues and vices?

    • Peter from Oz says

      Andrew Leonard

      A very interesting question. I often think of left’s fervent support for other cultures comes from a mixture of conservastism by proxy and oikophobia, with a distorted versions of chivalry and noblesse oblige thrown in for good measure.
      This struck me when well meaning middle class women would come back from South East Asia and tell me how wonderful they found the temples and the monks. But if you asked them to visit a church and witness a service, they’d tell you it was ll mumbo jumbo. Tis shows that these women are very keen to enjoy the emotional succour that tradition provides all humans. But they can’t be seen to be ”conservative” so it is better to satisfy their need for tradition by reference to cultures other than their own. Conservatism by proxy. But to this is added oikophobia, a distaste for one’s own cultural heritage. When dealing with the culture of others you aren’t really in a position to see more than small part of the whole, and you can filter out all the negatives. You are immersed in your own culture, and are constantly reminded of its evils.
      I also often wonder whether there are people who actually enjoy the idea of total submission to an ideology which would take away the burden of having to make constant choices. Islam is all about submission. So even though our middle class housewives understand the patriarchal essence of Islam they are prepared to sympathise with it, almost in the way that theyflocked in their millions to watch and read 50 Shades of Grey.

      • Bill Miller says

        It is also because “History”-classes these days are very lopsided. All Europeans are presented as slave-owning, barbaric mass-murders (which they all to often were.
        All Non-Europeans are presented as peaceful and highly cultured (which they weren’t, they were at least as brutal as the Europeans if not more and where Europeans every other century developed new styles and architecture, it is sometimes hard even for specialists to discern e.g. asian art that is 1000 years old from art that is 250 years old).
        No wonder that most people around are not willing anymore to appreciate Western Culture.
        For them it is all about greed and murder.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Peter from Oz

        Yes, that’s very useful thinking. What else might go into the soup? Perhaps embracing Islam can also be seen as the ultimate expression of just how much one hates Christianity, and by extension all of Western Civilization, so there’s yer oikophobia again, both via symbolic support for its antithesis, and also via the very real fact that if one wants to destroy a civilization, one could not find a better way of doing it. Perhaps throw in a bit of martyr chic? Who has demonstrated more purity of soul than the True Believer in the unity of all mankind and so marches into the slaughter with the innocence of a lamb? How pure must the mind be of she who can’t even imagine impurity in the minds of anyone (except whites, men, heterosexuals and Christians)?

    • Suomi Bag o' Nuts says

      @Andrew Leonard:
      “…but what is it about defending Islamism that floats their boat?”

      Not gonna pretend I have the whole answer, or bore the hell out of you trying to write one, but:

      Islam in many of its forms around the world (though not all Muslims) opposes a dominant Christian culture, Israel, and Judaism in general most vehemently.

      The Left has been waging total war against the West’s form of dominant Christian culture and Judaism and their conservative leanings for 150 years at least. The anti-Zionist (and some would argue anti-Semitic) rhetoric on the Left in America, Britain, Canada, and France (to name a few) seems to be growing in confidence lately. In contrast, the Left has been wide open in their condescension and bigotry against Christians and their “Bible clinging”, their “hopes and prayers”, and their attachment to traditional family and sexual values for quite a while, starting in the late 1960s.

      So there may be some “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” going on between the Left and Islam. In fact, you could say that’s the Left’s unifying idea. The Left is by nature a pastiche, a group of groups with widely different goals (n-wave feminists, postmodern university professors, militant Muslims, et al.) but united in their opposition to conservative Christianity and Judaism as the common oppressors keeping the groups under the Left’s banner from achieving their respective utopias.

      I am fascinated to see what happens if the Left in one part of the world or another really gets their wish and comes to realize that their utopias conflict in fundamental ways. THAT … will be quite the brawl inside the tent. It crops up here and there, but the real power struggle is yet to come, I think.

      • gmck1948 says

        I think Islam “gets a pass” from a lot of these people, despite its distasteful aspects, because it’s seen as largely a religion of non-Caucasian people, and that’s always a plus among social justice warrior “anti-racist” types.

      • Northern Observer says

        When the fight happens it is not a brawl, its a short swift massacre.
        Just ask the Iranian Socialists and Communists – oh wait you can’t they’re all dead.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Suomi Bag o’ Nuts

        “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”

        Surely that has to be at least part of it.

        “THAT … will be quite the brawl inside the tent.”

        We get a foretaste with the catfight between the radfems and the transwimin. Since the doctrine is that there is only power, and all Identities are naturally at war with all other Identities, it seems to be that the current alliance of all Victims against the Oppressor can’t possibly survive once the Oppressor has been vanquished. The only question will be: who is to be the next Oppressor? I think we will see the white feminists vs. the black feminists since the former are still Privileged Whites, are they not?

    • Andrew Leonard says

      This is an example of what the left defends
      https://www.spiked-online.com/2018/11/16/we-are-capitulating-to-extremists/
      However, i would not put all the blame for this farcical situation on the left. This is also occurring because Western men are so emasculated that they are becoming cowards. This in turn, creates an environment in which the idea of toxic masculinity takes root, and to some extent that is fair enough. When men become cowards, they deserve ridicule and contempt. Again I will argue that our society of absolutist individualism, in which no man (or woman) ever even considers putting the interests of the country before his own, is unworkable in the long run.

    • Michael Joseph says

      Andrew, you “can understand a left winger having concerns regarding …” Do you have those US domestic concerns? It doesn’t seem like conservatives want to solve those problems.

      • Michael Joseph says

        Progressives don’t defend violent religious extremists. They defend everyone’s constitutional right to their religious freedom. But this canard is a great way to distract from conservative’s inability to address the most pressing domestic problems we face.

        • Andrew Leonard says

          @Michael Joseph

          Do you have those US domestic concerns?

          So being nominally sympathetic to most of the Progressive agenda is not enough? Have Progressives ever made an effort to understand Conservative views? Do they even suppose the possibility of valid points of view, other than their own?

          Progressives don’t defend violent religious extremists.

          They don’t condemn them either. That would be Islamophobic.

          But this canard is a great way to distract from conservative’s inability to address the most pressing domestic problems we face.

          Problems that have been addressed by governments for many decades, but are still with us.

  9. luysii says

    Very serious and said. But writing for the fun of it, and not for fame and glory. Relax and enjoy the following (if you know any molecular biology)

    A science fiction story (for the cognoscenti)

    Comrade Chen we have a serious problem.

    Don’t tell me one of our bugs escaped confinement.

    Worse. One of theirs did. And it’s affecting the PLA (People’s Liberation Army). Some are turning into pacifists.

    It doesn’t kill them?

    No. But for our purposes it might as well.

    It’s a typical adenoassociated virus (AAV) like we use.

    Well, what does the genome look like?

    We’ve sequenced it and among other things, it codes for a protein which enters the brain and alters behavior.

    What?

    Well, the enemy has some excellent biologists, one of whom works on Wolbachia.

    What’s that?

    It’s a rickettsial organism which changes the sex life of some insects.

    I don’t believe that.

    Do you have a cat?

    Yes.

    Well many cats contain another organism (toxoplasma gondi).

    So what.

    Rats infected by the organism become less afraid of cats.

    Another example please.

    A fungus infecting carpenter ants causes the ant to leave its colony, climb a tree, chomp down on the underside of a leaf and die, freeing fungal spores to fall on the ground where they can reinfect new ants.

    Well what is the genome of the virus?

    It has some very unusual sequences, and one which proves that the Wolbachia biologist on the other side has a very large ego.

    How so.

    Well in addition to the brain infecting protein, there is a very unusual triplet of peptides all in a row.

    Methionine Alanine Aspartic Acid Glutamic acid, then a stop codon, then Isoleucine Asparagine, than a stop codon, then Threonine Alanine Isoleucine Tryptophan Alanine Asparagine. We think that the first two in some way cause readthrough of the stop codons so the protein following the short peptides is made.

    Where does the big ego come in?

    Figure it out.

    Answer next week.

  10. BenBen says

    Soros and the Rothschilds read Fahrenheit 451 and thought they could do one better, control the literary process from within. Stifle that which would hamper the new social engineering agenda of beta cuckoldry and state subservience

  11. JackBeThimble says

    This article is barlely-concealed self promotion wrapped in a thin layer of political grievance.

    • Peter from Oz says

      ”This article is barlely-concealed self promotion wrapped in a thin layer of political grievance.”
      So?

      • GroupOfOne says

        @Peter from Oz

        What do you mean “So?”?

        SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET SOMEWHERE IS DOING SOMETHING WRONG! THIS WILL NOT STAND!

        Fortunately, we have thoughtful souls like @JackBeThimbled to correct such heinous cybercrime.

  12. “From what I can observe, the candidates whom the industry now attracts are young elite university graduates who are not looking for money or even occupational stability. In many cases, they are former (or future) activists whose primary interest is the promotion of a progressive political agenda”

    I have a theory that it’s also the desire to ‘disrupt’ via language.

    Despite “techlash”, we’re surrounded at every turn by the power and benefits of technology “disrupting” industries. By Uber disrupting transportation and Casper disrupting supply chains. There is social cachet in disrupting the outdated.

    Visit any center of tech activity and people who a generation ago would be mistaken for punk rockers in a band are now independent game developers, bright clothes and spiked hair. There was a time we thought poets were being swallowed by the music scene to be lead singers in bands. Now they write code for startups.

    Additionally and to your point, the humanities have been hemorrhaging students for at least 20 years. How can professors stoke interest in literature? How do you convince students 400 year old sculpture matters on Twitter?

    You ‘disrupt’. You use language as a stand-in for the rapid trajectory of tech and suddenly art history is as urgent as AI. It “matters” because the world is besieged by outdated ideas, you think, so you sign up and learn to decolonize things.

    The problem of course is the effort to “flatten” hierarchies and “dismantle power structures” is really getting rid of one (or many intersectional-ly) by inserting your own.

    A ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ is the literal institutionalization of a preferred ideaology.

    Excavating outdated ideas is really the irony in all of this – what they are doing isn’t new. Hegel to Marx to Foucault to Butler – these are all systems of control.

    The tragedy is most likely think they are doing good in the world. They are “disrupting”. They matter and despite people dismissing the humanities they feel embolden by affecting change, so urgent and political.

    When really they are reverting to systems tried and failed, replacing reason for emotional well-being while being told the entire enterprise is moral and just.

    The power brokers benefiting from this modern religion surely know otherwise.

    Individualism is the only perspective that truly scales. It took us hundreds of years from Kant to Locke to Russell to realize it.

    Yet in less than 10 years social media – the greatest mind virus pathogen ever created – has become the very disrupter displacing these ideas that took so long to save us.

    • So many clamoring they love and want diversity, but then hate on those who do not agree, ignore evidence that “divided houses fall” etc. Conformity is still preferred over diversity among the authoritarian class (80% of humanity).

  13. Damian O'Connor says

    I had pretty much the same experience when I began writing novels. Now I just self-publish. I don’t make a living out of it, but the books sell each day (almost) and that gives me a great deal of pleasure.

    Damian P.O’Connor
    The Triumph of Stollie Prendergast.

    • annaerishkigal says

      @Damian O’Connor

      I self-publish as well. I write space opera / military sci-fantasy. All those genetically engineered super-soldiers with guns … pew-pew-pew. Heaven forbid a leftist publishing company would promote anything with a) a sci-fantasy version of “angels” from outer space crash-landing on Earth in 3,500 BC, and b) guns, all those guns. Just look what they did to the last Star Wars movies :-/ Wasn’t going to let them do THAT to my epic sci-fantasy series.

      Who needs New York? I sell just fine directly to my readers.

  14. Emmanuel says

    Tell them “how dare you assume my gender !” And it should be fine.

  15. Greg Maxwell says

    I feel kinda sorry for them. They live in a microcosm of privileged intellectualism that could well collapse when some real world economic or environmental disaster leaves them begging in the streets for bread in their intellectual tiaras.

  16. ShipAhoy says

    As a student in the 80’s, it was the guys whose rooms were stacked with books, a book in their coat pocket, a guy who turned me on to Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver. If women comprise the greater percentage of readers it’s probably due to the emerging matriarchy and this heinous political landscape. I am female and feel alienated by it. I love reading white male writers. Why is it that the contemporary immigrant experience takes up so much space? One might imagine it encourages interest in “the other.” Yet if this were true, all those female readers would be interested in reading what men have to say. Fewer “white male” narratives will engender an even greater divide, for what is literature for but to live vicariously in an effort to UNDERSTAND?

    And on that note, notice that should I try to impersonate someone not of my race or “gender” in an effort to UNDERSTAND, I would be accused by the matriarchal tyranny of “appropriating” someone other.

    On another note, I generally don’t look at who wrote a book, but what it’s about. This preoccupation with identity and purity is beyond the pale.

    I’m getting mad as hell and not sure if I can take it anymore.

  17. Charles White says

    One take away from the article that I obtained is Mr. Binder pursued his dream on his own dime, not a government handout. My assumption being that he is willing to test his success with the 92% on the market. He will use that judgement to adapt and improve quality.

    On the other hand, the 8%, at least in Canada, receive government grants to produce their work. Hence they do not care about improving their work since they get paid anyway. Their only concern is to be able to check the correct grievance boxes the government is enabling at the time. Definitely not to improve literary quality.

    Best wishes to Mr. Binder that he succeeds in his dream.

  18. Ken A. says

    Gotta say, this article reads like a Grievance Study. When you don’t succeed, it’s always tempting to imagine there is a vast conspiracy against you.

    A good article that substantially refutes (with graphs!) the ideas presented in this piece can be found here:
    https://pudding.cool/2017/06/best-sellers/

    I will humbly suggest that the author’s no doubt temporary problems stem more from the vagaries of that sometimes inconvenient Capitalist marketplace rather than diabolical persecution by the New York “monoculture”.

    By the way, will “The Absolved” be on Kindle? I’d be interested in downloading a free sample and buying it if like it.

    • Gilles St-Gilles says

      Ken A.,

      I read the article you link to, and fail to see a refutation of any kind. There is just no relationship between the literary New York scene described by Matthew Binder, and an historical gender analysis of best sellers (“oh, the bias!”). Well, at most it shows that the stupid actual book-buying public does not share the mindset prevalent in literary circles, and in spite of their efforts still throws some white males up the best-selling charts. But today’s New York literati do not argue about the significance of Clive Cussler in their soirées. They just don’t.

      • D-Rex says

        Gilles St,

        “Well, at most it shows that the stupid actual book-buying public does not share the mindset prevalent in literary circles,”

        Can also be said of the film-going public. What are the most popular movies generally? Fantasy/science fiction (and Titanic) and mostly super hero movies, like Deadpool which grossed $363 million in US! What do the elite rave about? Moonlight, which won best picture and scored a 98% critic rating but only grossed $27.8 million US.
        The unwashed masses will always want escapism from their entertainment and don’t like being lectured at by the books they read or the movies they go to see.

        • Ken A. says

          D-Rex,
          Showing your age with the Titanic references, but you’re essentially right, although most of the masses (at least in the U.S.) are usually washed. I wouldn’t sit next to them in the movie theatre if they weren’t!

      • Ken A. says

        I always wanted to go to a soiree, but nobody ever invited me. Can’t imagine why.

        Thanks for the response!

  19. TheSnark says

    Back in November 1980, there were reports of New Yorkers from that cabal asking each other how Reagan could have won the election, “I don’t know anybody that voted for him!”. Not much has changed.

    As for their professed multi-culturalism: I’ve lived in China, Europe, and Africa. One thing I have learned is that other cultures have their positive and negative sides. So does ours. On balance, and despite it flaws, I found ours to be very good.

    Few Americans that blather on about multi-culturalism have ever had the experience of living in another culture (not visiting for a few months, but immersed in the culture for years). Most of them would hate it.

    The genius of America has been to take people from different cultures and turn them into Americans. That does make them perfect human beings, but it’s generally an improvement.

    • E pluribus unum. A house divided will fall. If you really think diversity is best, then I suggest all parents swap children (and spouses?); after all, you must like the neighbor’s “different” child compared to your “same” one.

    • Trajan Fanzine says

      Hello Snark, appreciate the sentiment, but I have to point out this has been attributed to Pauline Kael, re: Nixon….

    • The quote in your first paragraph is great, but doubtful. It’s more often attributed to movie critic Pauline Kael, supposedly referring to Richard Nixon’s 1968 election, but that is disputed.

  20. Trajan Fanzine says

    Hello Matthew, your idea/topic did indeed sound interesting and you seem to write well, so I took the plunge for 4 Bucks and pre-ordered.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F2P3N55/ref=docs-os-doi_0

    I probably would have ordered a copy in any case to support your bravery in writing this article, I mean, you must realize, you’ll never get published in this town again….right?

  21. codadmin says

    I wouldn’t be too harsh on those dinner guests. Their reality is just as terrifying as those currently dining in Pyongyang.

    They are living in fear. But, if you hang around long enough, and get them away from the ‘mob’, the you’ll see they have different views in private.

    You have to accept the KGB style atmosphere and have fun with it.

    Also, automation is not taking away ‘meaningful work’.

    For the vast majority of people, work is not a vocation. Automation is good, stressed humans are not.

  22. I’ve had similar feedback from publishers. I’m currently submitting my completed manuscript to agents and have failed to gain any interest in the UK because I don’t belong to an “underrepresented group.” Some literary agents have conveyed to me that finding a publisher for my novel would be impossible and I’ve also been told that the “publishing climate” isn’t right for my story.

    My novel is a dual narrative series featuring a man and a woman. It takes place during the Enlightenment era of France – 30 years before the Revolution. I know Historical fiction isn’t very popular; however, I see French history repeating itself today. The tyranny, controlled language, the collectivism – all of it. During my research, I discovered that many professors who lecture on the French Revolution neglect to teach their students the whole story. For example, 3/4 of all bankruptcies after the French Revolution were women who could no longer keep their seamstress shops open. Thousands of skilled labourers, including women who had an independent income, were reduced to poverty.

    However, my research and story contradicts much of what is taught about this era. The ideal of Revolutionary equality is more attractive than the starvation, poverty, and death which paid for it.

    I digress -.

    I hope your novel finds many readers. Someday, I hope that it won’t matter who the author is, only that the story will stand on its own merit.

    • codadmin says

      @Melina

      The mainstream publishing industry is racist. You now have to submit to the lesser know houses if you want your work signed up.

      My suggestion, If your novel is as politically incorrect as those agents have told you, is to submit to Castalia House. You’ll get an honest review based on the content of your work and not the color of your skin.

      • @codadmin

        Thank you very much for your reply and I’ll definitely follow-up with Castalia House. I realize getting your novel published is a long and arduous undertaking; however, being asked to disclose my sexual orientation or skin colour in order to be considered for publication was something I did not anticipate.

        I have yet to submit to literary agents in the U.S.

        I’ve temporarily published my manuscript on Wattpad. Which, I realize, is a platform for 20-somethings and rife with fan fiction. Not very credible to the point where I find most of my readers are out of the average age demographic and surprised to see a “Works Referenced” page; however, I thought it would be a good platform to receive feedback.

        I appreciate your suggestion.

        • I suggest googling Castalia House founder/owner Theodore Beale and checking out his blog before submitting to Castalia.

          • @johntshea

            Thank you very much. I was going to check it out before I submitted. I always research the literary agents/publishers before submitting.

      • I wish you all the success with your future endeavours too. I really appreciate the honesty of your article.

        Submission is a brutal process and I’m grateful for your encouragement. Maybe the agents will enjoy my second novel in the series more because it will feature two public figures of French history who are minorities – one of whom was considered to be trans?

        Appropriation or representation? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    • GregS says

      Here is an interesting take on the origin of the word computer.

      The French ordinance survey office commissioned a fresh set of mathematical tables. In the 18th century, however, computations were done by hand. A “factory floor” of between 60 and 80 human computers added and subtracted numbers to fill in line after line of the tables for the survey’s Tables du Cadastre. It was grunt work, demanding no special skills above basic numeracy and literacy. In fact, most computers were hairdressers who had lost their jobs of thing that could endanger one’s neck in revolutionary France

      See The Origin of Computing

      • @GregS

        – And the earliest computers were Jacquard silk looms c. 1804; however, there is some dispute among historians as to who created the first punch cards because Basile Bouchon, Jean Baptiste Falcon, and Jacques Vaucanson had already created similar, and slightly less sophisticated models which predated the Jacquard loom by 60 years.

    • Red_Right_Returning says

      “I’ve had similar feedback from publishers.”

      No, you haven’t. According to several commenters here, you’re an awful writer. You have no skills and you’re probably a cisgendered Oppressor. Shame!!! Report for re-education!

  23. TarsTarkas says

    Calling Andrew Cuomo a centrist betrays the author’s political leanings. Also his insistence on making his white cisgender protagonist an unlikable character. He could have made the character more despicable than the late leader of the NSDAP and it still wouldn’t have gotten him into the good graces of the SJW mob, because all they care about is the narrative de jour and superficial appearances (which includes not just skin tone, orientation, but political and cultural leanings, including the new fad, sustainable clothing!) than a good story and good memorable characters. As PC publishing (including fantasy and science fiction) dies a slow painful self-inflicted death Alt-publishing will replace it by providing readers with what they want to read and enjoy, not stilted lectures and diatribes by self-perceived moral arbiters.

  24. Your experience is due to the 1-9-90 Rule. In any area of human activity (country music, ballet, computer code, baseball), 1% are creative (they write code or books, play music, etc.); 90% are passive consumers of what is produced by the 1%; and 9% are commenters who insert themselves between the 1% and 90%; they want to define/describe/comment the work of the 1%; they want to tell the 90% HOW to see, read, listen.

    This has been known in sociology for decades. The numbers vary by field; it can be 0.5%, 1.7% 3.2%, but it’s roughly in that range. The same for the 9% and 90%. Your numbers verify that: 8% are literary critics (which I call “the criterati”); 90% are readers.

    The last hundred years or so of industrialized cultural production (the printing press, music record labels, film studios) meant that culture was produced by a few who could afford these tools, which allowed the 9% to take control as critics. Writers, musicians, painters, dancers, etc. mostly earned very little, but the criterati lived quite well in NYC.

    The web however has been a disaster for the criterati. The tools of cultural production are suddenly free and uncontrolled: anyone can post a video or music to Youtube or publish books at Amazon. No need for Manhattan publishers, editors, or literary cocktail circuit approval. This is why the NYT constantly attacks Facebook and Google: how dare those West Coast computer guys let the masses see anything without NYC criterati approval/rejection? The 1% are going directly to the 90% and bypassing the 9%. Who cares what the 9% think? They’re irrelevant. Netflix is producing +800 movies annually now; which may be more than all of Hollywood combined. “Crickets? We don’t need stinkin’ crickets!”

    This is also a key factor in Trump’s success. He ignores East Coast pundits and journalists and uses Twitter to reach his base directly. We are going to see much more of this (right, left, green, whatever) as the 1% realize they don’t need the 9%.

    Publish your books on Amazon.

    • luysii says

      In addition to the criterati, the mainstream press is relatively irrelevant. Having read the NYT, WSJ, The Nation and the National Review for decades, they have never agreed on anything except the fact that Trump shouldn’t be elected in 2016. They just don’t matter any more.

  25. Caleb McInerary says

    It a little hilarious and a lot sad that at that NYC literary dinner party no one saw the irony of praising sex segregated pools based on sexist religious rules about what women can wear and then turning to talk about a book that employs enforced religious garb that very much resembles, in form and function, Islamic women’s wear, as a sign of women’s oppression.

  26. Total says

    I’m pretty sure the reason you had trouble publishing had less to do with identity politics and more to do with the sheer awfulness of prose like this:

    “parroting the drivel that has become the zeitgeist”

    That’s late L. Ron Hubbard bad.

    • Dave Greer says

      You might want to read the prose the publishers let out on shelves. It’s not much better.

  27. Ocean says

    I liked this book better when it was virtually anything by Michel Houellebecq. He needs to face up to the reality that his book just sucks.

  28. “…Automation and artificial intelligence making many forms of human labor obsolete.”
    No doubt. But how many of those jobs were created by the machine age to begin with, and how many NEW jobs is automation and AI creating? There will never be a shortage of things for us to do!

    “As Quillette writer Gabriel Scorgie noted recently, it’s become difficult for beginning writers to get book contracts.”
    When was it easy?

    Incidentally, why does this article give the impression that ‘The Absolved’ is Mr. Binder’s first novel? His first novel was ‘High in the Streets’, published in 2016.

    • It was easier when they weren’t rejecting people based on their skin color or genitals.

      Did you even read the article?

  29. Kevroid says

    I’m a conservative, supported Rubio, thought Trump would be awful, but if you look past him and focus on his policies he’s done Ok. I liked the article, and I like the premise of the book. It’s on my “buy” list. Maybe the article was just good marketing.

  30. I want to read your book, Matthew! Sounds very interesting, and you’re exactly right about our literary culture, which is very detrimental to our society.

  31. Pingback: Weird Internet Ideas: Bad Demographic Reasoning aka It’s Petunias all the way down… | Camestros Felapton

  32. whatpriceliberty says

    I lived in NYC for ten yrs. I was worked in tech. I was also in the art world. Dissenting opinion is absolutely not allowed – never, not one iota. The weird thing is these are nice people – and smart people. And kind people, and otherwise intellectually curious people. But they became closed off in that one realm of opinion – and they are willing to close ranks and shun anyone who disagrees. It’s pretty creepy. I think that their opinions are basically just part of an over all aesthetic
    and the aesthetic took precedence over thinking it through or having an open mind and they didn’t even realize that is what was happening to them – because social pressure was always so prevalent. Your career often quite literally depends on fitting in. I think it used to be that you could fit in with a different opinion – you could even be respected for it – but I didn’t grow up in those times.

    I had one political-ish discussion when I moved to NYC 13 yrs ago – at a fancy dinner party. It should have been innocuous and I was speaking from personal experience. I was essentially called a racist. I’ll tell you the situation I guess. I had lived in New Orleans and it was 2005 so Katrina had just happened. I had witnessed 1st hand how hard life was for people in the rough neighborhoods because I lived in one – all bohemians lived in or adjacent to the poorest neighborhoods in the city, and I was there to be an artist. A lot of the people there are provincial in that they and their fam had never left the city – for generations. Knowing that New Orleans has a pretty sluggish economy almost entirely service based, I said it was nice for some people to get to see a city with a thriving economy for the first time in their lives – Houston. When previously a lot of them were literally too poor and/or too stuck to ever even think of going to a different city to seek opportunity. She mistook me for someone saying that black people should be shipped out of New Orleans to Houston to move criminals out and she called me a racist. I was horrified at that audacity and couldn’t believe she had heard something so different from what I was saying. I was talking about the black community – but I wasn’t saying that. They were literally my friends and neighbors and co-workers .I knew something she didn’t – but she thought I was a racist. I never opened my mouth about my opinions again for 10 yrs – but I did do a lot of listening.

    So fast forward to the climate of today – some people I know have the *closet* opinion that had the Dems won the Kavanaugh trial – a bad precedent could have been set. These are people who lived in communist countries – so they know how scary it is to not have due process. These same friends have also pointed out how much the media is starting to seem like propaganda .. and they KNOw what propaganda is.

  33. Samantha Roberts says

    I read the excerpt and your book is actually very bad.

    • Russ Treynmour says

      lol I agree. He outed himself with two terrible excerpts in this essay– which was also poorly written.

      • Camestros says

        So it matches up with everything else the literary world is putting out. Good to know.

  34. Xaver Basora says

    His first mistake was to get it traditionally published. He shoul’d’ve self published via kindle, etc. At least he’d make much more money without the suffocating monooculture and histrionic lectures.

  35. Russ Treynmour says

    The author outed himself by sharing a couple excerpts that displays his inability to write. If people weren’t picking up his work sooner, I doubt its due to dinner discussions, and more to do with waffles like this that desperately need editing or just not to exist at all: “Sometimes, when I’m made to suffer through someone parroting the drivel that has become the zeitgeist, I wonder if I should disappear into the desert, silence surely being preferable not only to stupidity but unanimity, as well.”

    or this:
    “Henri complains to his wife after she’s enrolled their son in Sunday School: “It was a long time ago in this country that we tore God from his pedestal, and replaced him not with Satan and his sword, but with a robot capable of teaching itself new skills, completing tasks perfectly and seamlessly, without ever getting tired or complaining”

    Any editor would see they have their work cut out for them and would pass.

    • Of course, you missed the part where the author was apparently specifically told by multiple editors that the problem was demographics.
      Of course, you might not find the author trustworthy, which is fine, but that brings up the question of why you do not find him trustworthy.

      • Camestros says

        They want to disqualify his opinion so they don’t have to think about. It’s always what these types do when a problem doesn’t confirm to their worldview. It makes thinking easier.

      • Russ Treynmour says

        Any cis gendered white male, who has a cis gendered white male as his protagonist and cannot see his privilege nor the reason why his book wouldn’t work—probably needs to do more reading, less writing. Plus, I think these editors were being cordial. His writing is bad. He may have been honest and straight-foward, editors not so much

        • Right…I’d ask you to explain why the book wouldn’t work, but I expect the reply would be a variation of “educate yourself,” so I won’t bother.

          • Russ Treynmour says

            Your cheeky comment here is a good example. You spent 27 words forming a passage and managed to say absolutely nothing. If you won’t bother, then don’t. That takes 0 words, sunshine.

          • Fascinating. I gave you an opportunity to prove me wrong about your response, and you not only didn’t take it, you then spent time proving me right.
            That’s…impressive.

    • Red_Right_Returning says

      How could the paragraph be re-written to make it acceptable?

      • Russ Treynmour says

        It shouldn’t exist at all. Its trite and ridiculous–both passages. Only there to “inform” the reader of the character’s (or author’s) philosophies. But lets give it a shot:

        “Henri complains to his wife after she’s enrolled their son in Sunday School: “It was a long time ago in this country that we tore God from his pedestal, and replaced him not with Satan and his sword, but with a robot capable of teaching itself new skills, completing tasks perfectly and seamlessly, without ever getting tired or complaining”

        Can easily be chopped to this. Still ,the content is pretentious, freshman year college blabbering.

        Henri complains: A long time ago we tore God from his pedestal and replaced him with a robot.

        That is it. “Perfectly” doesn’t need “seamlessly”–redundant. “Without ever getting tired or complaining” isn’t needed. He said robot. We can assume a robot doesn’t get tired or complain , because it is a fucking robot.

        A better passage would be:

        Henri complains: A long time ago we tore God from his pedestal and replaced him with a robot.

        His wife looks at him, finding his mouth and voice annoying, and tells him to shut the fuck up and get in the car.

  36. When people are talking about the voice of a work, it doesn’t sound to me like the problem was the author, but the writing.

    Women have to be good at capturing the male voice because the world requires us to work around the male ego, anticipate and cater to male assumptions, and decode male language while men see as ciphers or mysteries or ignore us altogether.

    Often when a man is writing a woman (and I gather there is at least one woman in your book, as the protagonist has a wife), what we read sounds more like a man’s half-heard, half-remembered paraphrase of what he thought a woman would have said in the situation. It lacks authenticity.

    I’m not making this as a blanket statement; some men have a wonderful ear for dialogue from all walks of life. But the author of this piece doesn’t strike me as being particularly introspective, nor overwhelmingly likely to spend much time listening to what other people are *actually* saying rather than looking for things that confirm his bias (e.g., thinking a comment about the voice of his writing is a criticism of the person who is speaking rather than a term of art, the art he took a year off to practice without, it seems, having stopped to learn anything about.)

    In my experience, the sort of person who likes to ~*play contrarian*~ rarely spends enough time listening to and reflecting on the things he chooses to argue against to actually lend a credible argument against it. I’m not surprised no one was impressed with him pivoting to religious oppression, like he was saying something fresh or new (or indeed, terribly relevant). I would say “Did he think these same people had never given a thought to nor condemned the oppression of women in Muslim countries?” but of course, he does think that. That was the basis of his argument. It was his entire argument.

    What a trifling, unimaginative man.

    • Camestros says

      I suggest looking this poster up if you want a good laugh. Heavy duty projection from this one.

    • Michael says

      I agree with some of that, but your claim that women generally right men better than men write women isn’t really supported by the contents of any library in the western world.

    • Red_Right_Returning says

      “How do you write women so well?”
      “I think of a man. Then I take away reason and accountability.”

    • Kelly Murphy says

      Alexandra Erin is not only a male, but a rather notorious one.

  37. NickG says

    >What accounts for this identity-obsessed approach to publishing? <

    Postmodernism and the success of the 'long march through the institutions'

  38. Elizabeth Forest says

    I am troubled by the increasingly popular thought that we can only relate to that which already defines us. I find the idea that women cannot relate to a male character or male “tone” in writing to be exceedingly sexist. One of my favorite characters is Jack Reacher, a character I have nothing in common with. One of my favorite authors is Wilbur Smith, and there is no denying that his writing is masculine.

    And for any publishers reading this – If women are the lion share of readers, and we only want to read books that reflect women, how do you explain so many successful male writers who write from the viewpoint of men?

    I tell you what readers want, a good story, well written. Do not limit us to your own narrow view of the world.

    • D-Rex says

      @Elizabeth Forest

      I spoke to my wife about this yesterday as she is a prolific reader across a number of genres. She did find that women often write men better than men write women but that there were many male authors who did it well. This is of course from a woman’s perspective but I get her point. She also talked about how female authors tend to be stronger on character development whereas male authors are often stronger on the details of the plot.
      On thinking about it, I definitely require good character development the books I read and many of my favourite books were written by women, my favourite author outright is Anne McCaffrey.
      I tried reading Assimov years ago as he was touted as one of the great scifi authors but found his stories tedious as they were all event based and you never got the chance to spend any time with any of the characters.
      In the end books are like wine, you read what you like regardless of other people’s opinions. If it works for you, great.

  39. Ken A. says

    Hey Elizabeth,
    What is your reason for thinking that “we can only relate to that which already defines us” is “popular” idea? I don’t perceive much evidence for that, just the opposite in fact.

    Other than that, everything you say is perfectly reasonable. Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway are both great writers, and people of all sexes such read them both and enjoy!

    • The existence of the “cultural appropriation” argument proves her whole point.

  40. bfwebster says

    Thus has it always been. Go read Tom Wolfe’s classic “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” from nearly 50 years ago (1970).

    • cthulhu says

      TW’s “The Painted Word” and “From Bauhaus to Our House” are also apropos. And several essays in his 2000 collection “Hooking Up.”

  41. BTRoty says

    Spot on. I attended an MFA program in NYC after having deployed overseas in the belief that I would be challenged by placing myself in an environment where being a veteran granted me no special status.

    What I found was that, while I was indeed challenged, my peers didn’t know how to accept being challenged in return. The expectation of adherence to ideological and dogma and the belief that “ism” or the hyphenated predicate took precedence over ability and quality was shocking.

  42. Craig G says

    Lord, the confidence of a mediocre white man is fully on display here. I read the excerpt you posted on your website. The women are either fembots or emasculating shrews in such a short space of time. In my experience, people only “play contrarian” when they don’t have a dog in the fight. Such dogwhistle phrase like “ideological diversity” and incredulity of the existence of racism and sexism are practically alt-right klaxons.

    • Arthur Kant says

      See all these buzzwords? This is the mark of someone who can only parrot talking points. Not one original or relevant thought is posted here. All arguments are ignored due to skin color and sex.

      When you can’t have a rational argument and are unable to speak the same language nothing can change or improve. It’s just mindless slogans and mantras that are completely made up. This is why a common language is important.

      If you want to know why the climate for discourse is so abysmal then all you need is look at the post I am replying to.

      • Sydney says

        Consider this a ‘LIKE’ for @Arthur Kant’s reply to that far-left gobbeldygook comment.

    • Could you elaborate, please. Sometimes this is true, but I feel sometimes people have a much more nuanced opinion but never get the chance to build on the nuance because they get shouted down right from the get-go.

  43. Morgan says

    Not Satan, but a machine? Or maybe that IS Satan, because a machine is just an entity that operates according to the laws of the ‘fallen world’. Or maybe read Ginsberg’s Howl. Maybe we replaced God with Moloch.

    I also think you fail to understand the female instinct. There’s nothing more attractive than the polygamous, gender-protected(the purpose of segregation) world of Islam. Christianity both provide for this instinct, and refused to degenerate into pagan polygamy. Without it, Islam (and paganism) is more attractive to women, though probably not consciously.

    You keep mentioning your book. I assume this is at least partially an advertisement, still there are some good points. Even ads can be interesting. :^)

  44. Marguerite Reed says

    Good God, what is this fellow bitching about? He’s the author of High in the Streets, which was published 2 years ago, and very well received, from what I can tell. “High in the Streets is by turns hilarious, moving, and raw. A gritty tour de force that takes the best aspects of James Salter, Norman Mailer, and Bret Easton Ellis to heart, Binder’s novel is an accomplished debut by a writer with a singular, animated voice, attuned to the strange rhythms and desperation of latter-day Los Angeles and the people who live there. (Michael Abolafia, reviewer New York Review of Books, 2015)” This certainly doesn’t sound like someone who’s a victim of publishing’s cold shoulder. Matthew, stop being an edgelord who’s trying to get attention and just fucking write.

  45. Samuel says

    Holden Caulfield’s bitter (over)reaction to Mr. Antolini stroking his head on the couch one night is enough to have that 60-million copy seller deemed unpublishable in 2018.

  46. annaerishkigal says

    In case anybody doubts the veracity of what the article writer is saying, HERE is the “submission guidelines” for Carina Press, a sub-imprint of Harlequin Romance:

    ***********************
    Submission Guidelines

    Carina Press is committed to inclusion and representation in our publishing program, and we want to emphasize how interested we are in seeing not just manuscripts that feature characters from a range of backgrounds and experiences, but most especially books by authors from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups, including (but not limited to) Black authors, authors of color, disabled authors, and LGBTQIA+ authors. Our editors strive to make our list inclusive, and are working hard to build a catalog that is more representative of the romance reading public.

    ***********
    Now mind you, MOST romance readers to NOT want to read about effimate men who snivel and whine at the feet of a strong SJW-touting woman, they want alpha-males. They’ve driven away all but a few of their best-selling writers to go indie, while the “editors” keep asking for new writers to submit the above-called for twatwaddle which doesn’t SELL :-/

    Most romance writers went indie back in 2011 and took 99% of their readership WITH them.

  47. Pete F says

    Is this satire? The examples provided from the book somehow manage to be poorer writing than the drivel making up this article.

    Bud, you didn’t get published by and large because you are a bad writer. Get it.

    Your whining about not being taken seriously, interspersed with a lot of wildly inane cliches about writers (of which you are not), is so over-the-top absurd it threatens to needle peg an irony-o-meter so devastatingly it could destroy the world.

    Just stop.

    • Leslie says

      Pete, you’re a bad reader. He clearly states his novel is getting published. Get it.

    • Edmund K. says

      “An agent… scolded me for “bigotry” because the imagined world of 2036 has witnessed a successful Muslim insurrection in France. Another accused me of “misogyny” because the self-absorbed Henri has become less attracted to his aging wife.”

      My man, Michel Houellebecq already wrote this book.

      It takes a special strain of self-regard to get everything what you want and still complain about being shafted. Your dialogue is cringe-inducing, your plotline unoriginal and overwrought. Seems like rather than being too restrictive regarding the background of new writers, literary houses continue to be quick to publish talentless semi-plagiarists who challenge nothing.

  48. Penrod says

    “She went on to explain that the fiction-buying audience is mostly female”

    Gosh, given the people writing and promoting it, I wonder why men don’t pay money to read it.

    There is, however, plenty of self published male voice fiction available on Amazon. It varies wildly in quality, but it is there.

  49. Down-Easter says

    Mr. Binder’s concluding statement brought to mind a quote from the late Nobelist Joseph Brodsky: “If one’s fated to be born in Caesar’s Empire, let him live aloof, provincial, by the seashore.”

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  51. Arundo Donax says

    “A major theme in my book is that any political or economic system that doesn’t work for the majority of the people cannot be sustained.”

    What a silly idea. For most of history, most of humanity has been ruled by the brute force of greedy despots. Feudal societies lasted for centuries in Europe and elsewhere. Aristocracy and monarchy have survived for thousands of years and still aren’t dead (a blue-blooded 0.6% of the population still owns half of rural Britain). Caste systems like India’s debase most of the population but defy reform. Male subjugation of females has persisted for untold millennia and is still going strong in most of the world. There are few if any cultures today in which most people are serfs or slaves, but there are many historic examples of long-lived cultures in which a tiny segment of the population, sometimes just one man, owned most or all of the rest. Political and economic systems that “work for the majority of the people” are rare; most systems are designed to extract rent for the people in power.

  52. The author of the piece clearly states that his book is being published, so it’s not sour Grapes that motivates him. He’s saying that the strong left-leaning bias in the industry is preventing a diversity of ideas in the marketplace. What is so hard to understand.

  53. This female liberal is also worried that the momentum of our recent successes in some areas, might move us headlong into a new kind of thought-policing. Dissent is, after all, a cherished leftist value.

    I do hope we grow up and learn to listen past our fears. It’s those fears that clog up the ear canal (speaking for myself), but it’s lack of maturity that cannot see this fact. Young intellectuals can be forgiven for this, but where are the more experienced intellectuals who are supposed to know (and model) better?

    Finally: I make a point of consuming men’s work alongside women’s – precisely because men are half the human race and we don’t want to lose anyone’s contribution.

    Keep up the dissent here. We need everyone’s voices. I’ll keep listening.

    • Dissent? You do realize that based on demographics, white males remain extensively overrepresented in publishing. Quite frankly, there’s no way you could be a well rounded reader without picking up any men.

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  55. jeanieloiacono2015 says

    Those who acquiesce to immorality due to it being the ‘in’ thing to do (acceptance of adultery, porn, homosexuality, stealing, lying, cheating) will not win. In the end, all are held accountable. In the publishing industry myself, I choose to be honest and forthright; to do the right thing. I love the USA and President Trump. He is truly the best president since Washington. Make America Great Again, not by giving it away by the trillions to countries we have saved from annihilation or by letting in illegals infiltrated by MS13 and ISIS, but by putting America first, then we can help others. It is the airplane oxygen rule: put your mask on first so you can help others without expiring yourself. God bless the United States and all those who have served and continue to do so selflessly.

  56. Whose monoculture are you describing?

    “When I cut to the chase and asked why no one at the table seemed to feel aggrieved for women suffering under Islamic oppression, voices were raised and, well, I may or may not have been asked to leave. There were other experiences like this, and I learned to hold my tongue.”

    Women suffering under “Islamic oppression” have also become leaders in their country, something that’s escaped women here.

    My guess is you’re trapped in monocultural blinder’s that mask the full range of conditions and this allows you to make sweeping generalizations that fall apart under the same level of scrutiny you offer your dinnermates.

  57. J T Gillick says

    So, in our future fully-automated jobless purposeless lives we’re going to fall victim to “VICE”, are we? What would that be exactly? Perhaps some range of boredom-relieving misbehavior that lies between bearing children so as to harvest their organs – and wearing white shoes after Labor Day.

    Gadzooks! The Devil makes work for idle hands indeed.

    Praise Ford and pass the Soma – and please don’t forget to limit and regulate your supefluous get’s Playstation screen-time, as per Dr. Wertham’s timely admonitions.

  58. This is hilarious. Read excerpts from this guy’s book, and his writing is truly terrible. Shocked he found a publisher at all. Talk about having a sense of entitlement.

  59. What a fascinating look into a fantasy world where Bill O Reilly and Jordan B Petersen aren’t mainstream published authors, and Milo Yiannopoulous didn’t get a big ticket book deal from another major publisher until he cocked it up so badly they dumped him!

    If I ever need to understand what it’s like to inhabit an entirely evidence-free world, I’ll be sure to read your *published* novel.

    And if I ever need a sense of what zero editorial standards looks like, I’ll be back on this blog site.

    • Anthony says

      I’m assuming you don’t live in NY, have never been to a literary event/party in NY, and don’t know any actual NY writers. I do and have. And my wife, who is a fiction writer published and friends with well-known writers, would confirm every bit of this piece. You are the one living in an evidence-free world.

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  61. Blarsen says

    The provided writing samples are terrible. Cringey. It sickens me to think your lame politicising is going to get your shitty book more reads than people far more deserving, be they straight white males or not.

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