might as a general rule prefer more flamboyantrnsubjects, what I believe makes thisrnportrait a stunner is Meyers’ (perhaps reluctant)rnrecognition that j.F. Powers’ is thernrealest type of the literary life. Meyersrnseems both appalled and attracted by hisrnlate friend’s meager existence, perhaps forrnthe reason that he recognizes him to havernbeen an example of what amounts, byrnnow, to an endangered species.rnWhat has occurred since the 1960’s —rnbeginning maybe as early as the 1920’s —rnis the coalescence of a shadow literaryrnworld that, within the past two decades,rnhas succeeded almost entirely in supplantingrnthe bodied one. The “creative”rnwriter of today, sporting an M.F.A. degree,rna sheaf of recommendations by arnnumber of literary lights, and a variety ofrnawards, grants, and other emoluments, isrnmore or less an accomplished professionalrnperformer and celebrity; as an author,rnhowever, he is no more than a literaryrnamateur at best, at worst a fraudulentrnposeur whose reputation depends onrncareful networking and an elaborate mutual-rnpraise-and-admiration society. Whatrnhas happened to literature in our time isrnthe hijacking of the grimy, sweaty, fleshand-rnblood realit)’ by the lustrous antisepticrnspecter, the replacement of Balzac inrnhis dirty bathrobe with his piled coffeernsaucers around him by a bimbo besidernher swimming pool, fey youths in darkrnglasses wearing black T-shirts under theirrndesigner sport coats, and the latest AsianrnFirecracker from San Francisco, flownrnout by her New York publisher to havernher photo taken by Jill Krementz. Backrnin the 50’s, Raymond Chandler wonderedrnhow many people there werernleft in America who could read a paragraphrnfrom a novel—any novel—and sayrnwhether the man who wrote it was a writerrnor not. Today, the new breed of publishers,rnlargely interested in videos, moviernrights, and celebrit)’-ehasing, can’t beginrnto tell the difference (not that it wants to,rnor cares). The “writers” —unskilled orrnbadly skilled, ignorant, vapid, shallow,rnself-absorbed, and nihilistic; knowing littlernof life but plenty about ideologicalrnfashion and what it takes to achieverncelebrity—who swamp the major publishingrnhouses with print-out mss. belong,rnmosfly, to this shadow world, which publishersrnhave learned to accept for the realrnone. (They think a writer ought to writernlike Bobbie Ann Mason or whoever it isrnthat wrote White Snow on Dark Cedarsl)rnWhat has happened here is what hasrnovertaken so much in modern societ’: Arnwell-organized, well-disciplined, andrnmutually supportive cadre of eagerrnwannabes set its sights on an institution itrnconsidered (for all the wrong reasons)rneminently desirable, first infiltrated, thenrnseized it, then—finally—chased the artistsrnand professionals out. As for the publishers’rnacquiescence in this Bloodless Revolution,rnI suppose you really can’t blamernthem, the impostors having largely suppliedrnthe market for their work as well asrnthe means of production and a promotionalrnsystem (themselves) much more effectivernthan what the publishing houses havernin place. The result is that real writers—includingrnmany with established reputationsrn—can’t get contracts nowadays.rnWhile J.F. Powers cannot supply thernglamour of many writers, the fewer of therngenuine article (like Powers) and thernmore of the pod variety there are in yearsrnto come, the fewer privileged momentsrnwill be available to the indefatigable powerhousernJeffrey Meyers {still only 61 yearsrnold!) and his successors in literarv scholarship.rnTo Meyers’ credit, he does seemrnto understand this.rnChilton Williamson, jr., is the seniorrneditor for books at Chronicles.rnwarnrnHELP CHRONICLES… CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS… HURT THE IRS.rnIMAGINE BEING ABLE TO DO THREE GOOD THINGSrnALL AT THE SAME TIME.rnThere are many ways to make year-end, tax-deductible gifts to Chronicles:rnA Magazine of American Culture. The simplest of these is a cash gift, butrnoften there is a tax advantage in making a gift of appreciated stocks orrnbonds. When you do, there are two winners: you and Chronicles. The only loserrnis the wicked and greedy tax collector.rnHere’s how it works:rnWhen you sell appreciated securities, you are taxed on the capital gains. However,rnif you contribute appreciated stocks or bonds to Chronicles, you will notrnhave to pay any tax on the gains. In fact, you will receive a charitable deductionrnfor the full, fair-market value of the securities as of the date of the gift. Tornqualify, you only have to have held the stocks or bonds for more than one year.rnf’. f ‘rnGiven the dramatic gains in the stock market in recent years, it makes goodrnsense to review your investments with an eye toward making a year-end gift ofrnlong-term securities to Chronicles. Your securities broker can even wire thernshares directly to Chronicles investment account.rnFor more information, please write or call:rnChristopher Check, Executive Vice PresidentrnThe Rockford Institute, 928 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois 61103rn(815)964-5811rnHELP CHRONICLES… CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS… HURT THE IRS.rn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn