Neon Glittery, Hannah Fantana, xTx, Crispin Best, Sam Pink, Guillaume Morissette, Yumbo Tuff, Gabby Gabby, Buffet Feline, Frank Hinton, Carnivorous Judy, Moon Tzu, Socrates Adams, Reginald Reginald, and Beach Sloth are all pseudonyms that belong to â€“ as the high activity level of their corresponding social networking profiles suggest â€“ living human beings.Â But these beings are neither, as I first assumed, writers behind an innovative movement in African American hip-hop nor writers behind a rebellious faction of American Indian story-tellers.Â They are writers. . . but they are writers behind a growing, internet-based literary movement called, by its participants, â€˜Alt-Litâ€™ â€“ as in Alternative Literature.
The writers of â€˜Alt-Litâ€™ do share some similarities with African American rappers and American Indian story-tellers, and itâ€™s not just their use of pseudonyms.Â The Puppet Masters â€“ you know, those crusty old white men who control and pervert both the publishing industry and the academic institution â€“ systematically ignore, and even segregate, all three of these literary groups and the writers behind them.Â They try to force African American writers to the projects, American Indian writers to the reservations, and â€˜Alt-Litâ€™ writers to the internet.Â By isolating these three groups and the writing they produce, the Puppet Masters â€“ those fuckers who wonâ€™t pass the pepper â€“ hope the mainstream masses of America will, instead of getting exposed to these writersâ€™ subversive ideas and dangerous perspectives, continue staring at the blinding brightness of their televisions.
I like the provocation and persuasiveness of the above paragraph. . . but itâ€™s not entirely true.Â African American and American Indian writers are, generally, ignored and segregated by the publishing industry and the academic institution because of their race and religion.Â â€˜Alt-Litâ€™ writers are ignored and segregated because, as I learned after reading the work of Marie Calloway, the movementâ€™s self-appointed starlet, their writing is bad â€“ not badass, just bad. Â And I believe itâ€™s because of the low-quality of their writing that the use of pseudonyms is so common among them.Â â€˜Alt â€“ Litâ€™ isnâ€™t Alternative Literature. . . itâ€™s Alternative To Literature.
Yes, itâ€™s true: my opinion that the writers of â€˜Alt â€“ Litâ€™ produce bad, low-quality work is based solely on the writing of Marie Calloway â€“ a pseudonym, of course â€“ because when reading her stories I donâ€™t feel like Iâ€™m reading literature.Â I feel like Iâ€™m reading a post on one of those â€˜true-encounter-confessionâ€™ message boards that I visit when The Girlfriend is out-of-town and my stolen WiFi connection isnâ€™t strong enough to download porn.Â Although all of Marie Callowayâ€™s stories are clear and stimulating enough to keep me reading until they end, there is a never-ending supply of better written and more erotic stories across the internet, in old pulp-fiction bookstores, and even on the dirty walls of bathroom stalls.
Itâ€™s not fair, I know, to use one young, undeveloped â€“ mentally, not physically â€“ writer to judge all of â€˜Alt â€“ Lit,â€™ but thatâ€™s exactly what I did:Â Because of Marie Calloway, I dismissed â€˜Alt â€“ Litâ€™ as some kind of post-post-post modern, ego-boosting, stalemate of a literary movement populated by a handful of privileged, suburban-inhabiting teenagers that use the fancy tablet-computers and smart-phones their parents bought them to create ironic memes, transcribe Gmail chats, and document their organic avocado sushi and coconut water intake with invented words, simple sentences, and shallow characters.Â I agreed with the blogger, Andrea Coates, who, in â€˜The Ultimate End All Alt Lit Essay,â€™ writes that the bland predominates â€˜Alt â€“ Lit,â€™ the writers behind it, and the work they produce.
And after I unfairly used Marie Calloway to dismiss â€˜Alt â€“ Litâ€™ as an Alternative To Literature, I went back to reading actual literature â€“ those comforting and familiar books approved by the Puppet Masters, churned-out by the publishing industry, and endorsed by the academic institution â€“ and I forgot a literary movement called â€˜Alt â€“ Litâ€™ ever existed.Â For me, all that existed were the dog shits I got paid to pickup, the Forsley Feuilletons I didnâ€™t get paid to write, and the assassin I wish I paid to slit the old Filipino ladyâ€™s throat who lives next-door and distracts me, with her constant hacking-up of what can only be lung fragments, from writing more and writing better so that maybe, just maybe, I can someday stop picking up dog shit.
But right when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.Â Specifically, it was Chris Dankland that encouraged me to take a second look at the phenomenon that is â€˜Alt â€“ Litâ€™ when he linked to some of my writing on his blog, Dankland, which acts as both a quality-filter and historical-record of this new literary movement.Â And there I was reading my own pieces over and over and over while cackling over and over and over with Patrick Bateman like narcissism that I noticed a post titled, â€œLil B Invented Alt Lit. . .â€Â As a Bay Area resident and a hip-hop enthusiast, I was already aware of Lil B, his music, and his skinny pants.Â But I wasnâ€™t aware of his influence on â€˜Alt â€“ Lit,â€™ or the influence he would have on my decision to reevaluate this new, internet-based literary movement.
To Be Continued . . .