Showdown at Hobart Gulch – Book and Film Globe

Last week’s drama in the literary world will really get us in the weeds, centering on the literary magazine, Hobart, and the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop. On September 29, the magazine published an interview between a self-proclaimed “outcast from Iowa” Alex Perez and editor Elizabeth Ellen who caused the resignation of five editors and all kinds of opinions on the Internet.

The interview itself covers Perez’s life as a Cuban-American in Miami and dreams of playing baseball before diving into awakening, denouncing the MFA’s “grift” and lamenting that there is no have more room for writers of “male fiction”. A representative quote:

“I think every guy who writes from a heterosexual male perspective feels the pressure to apologize for his manhood. Let’s define male writing first, since we’ve talked about it many times. Male writing = writing on the concerns of heterosexual men from a non-feminist point of view. That’s not to say that the male writer can’t be a feminist or write about feminism or whatever, but he can’t care not to not be seen as a feminist or an ally, which is the main concern of most male writers now, which is why the writer you mentioned apologized. feminists will think of him, he is not a male writer because he will never be able to write honestly about the male condition. He will be the worst of all creatures: the soft male feminist.”

You can read an excellent synopsis and analysis of the interview on Gawker. This article quotes tweets from former editor Evan Fleischer as the beginning of this conversation:

Writer Rion Amilcar Scott also has a great thread on Perez’s “token good boy” stories. Perez says in the interview:

“If you’re a POC, you can’t just submit any old story about the POC experience, but one in which the narrative framing is about victimization at the hands of America and ‘whiteness’ and all the other predictable tropes that now dominate literary fiction. When you write within this framework, you behave like a token good boy story, therefore, you have written a token good boy story. The trick to a token good boy story is to situate the “brown” characters as victims while providing woke white editors with pleasantly edgy scenes that never veer into the problematic, so they feel like they’re reading an “authentic” POC story. in Spanish or have a character cross the border and dodge a Border Patrol agent or two; you know, the stuff that makes woke white people salivate. e that in the literary scene, POC characters are only allowed to be victims or noble savages, ideally both – a pure brown person victimized by an evil white system.

“So the dude notes that at one point he wrote what he calls ‘token good boy stories’ because he thought that was the only way to get it published. But if he chose to write inauthentically is a decision he made, not a decision imposed on him. tweeted Scott. “Of course, what to do with white gaze is a challenge that every POC writer has to face and I don’t want to minimize the difficulty of it, but there are literally hundreds of years of patterns to follow if you want to write with integrity. Surrender is a choice.

On October 12, five of Hobart’s editors resigned in a now-deleted letter on Hobart’s website. Founding Editor Aaron Burch resigned later that day. Among editors’ concerns is the power that editor Ellen has, saying:

The publication of the Alex Perez interview reflects a continued behavior by a single editor, Elizabeth Ellen, to prioritize outrage-driven attention over conveying innovative work that adds new perspectives to Hobart and the literary community…all Hobart editors have equal publishing privileges on the back-end of the site. This allowed for flexible working hours and a reduced hierarchy, but it also relied on everyone acting responsibly. We all had the technical power to publish whatever we wanted with impunity; Hobart’s success as a group project required all publishers to act in good faith and in the knowledge that our actions would affect everyone.

Their very kindly resignation continues, “The content that sparked all of this was regressive, harmful, and also just boring writing.”

Of course, the reactions on social networks were numerous and moving. Many writers thanked and credited the Hobart of the past for giving them their departure and asked how they could remove their writings from the site. One thread offered resources for writers looking for new homes for their work now that Hobart is banned. And, of course, people looked at Perez, Ellen and the whole scandal:

In a long Substack entry, “Who Killed Creative Writing?” former (and, I’m guessing, current) MFA graduate Meghan Daum agrees with Perez on some points and disagrees with him on others, but ultimately, l feel that the interview and the resulting controversy show how impossible it is to have a “literary” career these days:

“Perez says he now makes a living writing heterodox commentary for outlets like Tablet, but I find that hard to believe. It’s nearly impossible to make a living doing any kind of freelance writing from our days, and unless he is exceptionally frugal or exceptionally prolific, I suppose he struggles as much as any of us.There will be those who consider this dusting of Hobart a premeditated publicity effort. The fact that I spent my weekend writing over 3,000 words about a magazine and writer I had never heard of until Wednesday suggests they might be right.

For their part, Ellen and Perez definitely added to the tweet storm. Perez wrote“Today I’m going to try to do the impossible: explain to my friends in Miami why I’m now the ‘pariah of Iowa’. I’m going to have to explain what the writers workshop is. Iowa. I’ll probably have to define ‘outcast’ too, since most of my brothers barely speak English. I could get my ass kicked,” Oct. 14.

Ellen has been Tweeter from the Hobart account directly, as well as posting a response on the Hobart site which called this response a “mutiny” and compared her situation to that of Shirley Jackson”The lottery.” She also retweets her followers, thanking Ellen and Hobart for posting.

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