I don't feel well. I have the fast heart rate today. Struggling to catch my breath. Just sitting here. It is the situation, of course. You cannot give in. Find a way to get your body under control. Try harder.
I am proofing a story I composed yesterday called "The Space of the Moment." Yesterday someone opined to me that there wasn't an agent anywhere who would not jump at the chance to represent the Beatles book I am doing. This is a smart person, someone I've shared quite a few things with, but it's dispiriting when I see an example like this of just how hard it is for someone to accept what has happened here.
There is not an agent in America who would represent me. This is what I have said it is--a complete blackballing across an industry, with many people working in concert to assure I do not break through the ranks. That's the straight-up reality. If I had a book that can cure cancer, these people are going to try and make sure it does not get out. And it is everywhere. In every portion of this industry. I am the devil to these people, because of what I am, can do, do do. The greater your ability, the greater your genius, the more your work can potentially matter to millions of people, the larger the amounts of expertise you possess--let alone if you are demonstrably the world's leading authority on disparate subjects A, B, B, D, etc.--the more they will hate you, fear you, envy you, literally wish for you to die. These are unwell people in a sick subculture. I am the agent. I will always be the agent. When I get past these people, when I am making the fortune, when I am changing this world, I will be the agent. Everyone had their chance long ago.
Let me give you an example of how agenting work. Andrew Wylie absolutely hates me. Yesterday, I saw this woman, Buku Sarkar, bragging on Facebook about how Andrew Wylie is representing her now to sell her short stories. I want you to look at this person's CV, and see how 1. They possess no talent at all 2. They have achieved nothing over many years 3. They hardly ever write anything. You see where her fiction ran? Now, I haven't heard of two of those places, and her most recent fiction publication, of the three she has had in her life, was from 2012 in n+1, and we have spoken the bigotry and classism of n+1 before. We will again.
Click on that n+1 story. As someone said to me last night, it is Bunker Hill Community College Creative Writing 101. Can you write worse than that? Can you write anything of less appeal, with less purpose? There is no one out here reading this blog, even if they have not ever tried to write a story in their lives, who could not write better than that. Or certainly no worse. She has homes in two countries. She was on FB yesterday looking for a villa in Tuscany, preferably one with an annex building to go along with the main property. Who talks this way? What person, who has done nothing, who has no ability, talks that way? Look at her nonfiction publications. She's made a couple hundred bucks in her life--via Threepenny Review, where the unstable Wendy Lesser presides--in her life. This goes back a decade, her roster of publications. I have literally published more--by a lot--this summer, with an entire industry against me, in top venues. What do you think about that? Wylie told me I had no talent, he told me the places I would never be in. He talked down to me. He insulted me. And I told him what I would do. I told him where my work would appear, in terms of the few places it had not yet appeared. One of those places was Harper's. And I sent this craven fool the link when my fiction was in Harper's. Apples, as they say. And he said what? What are you going to say? My bad? They don't have that in them. They are only capable of rancor, backbiting, whatever form of cheap tyranny they can get their little mitts on.
You're dealing with the most discriminatory, anti-reading, anti-merit, anti-sanity people there are. This woman has a career of seven garbage publications, with lousy work. What would possess you, at the "best" agency, to say, "Yep, we need that." And you know what? You will see her in The New Yorker, you will see her in The Paris Review. Because this is how this works. You are dealing with a sick subculture of freaks. And their motivation is power. Ruling their sad, meaningless dollhouses. It is never about work, it is never about business, it is never about reaching readers, it is never about merit. It is driven by hate and envy and classism. If you are that much better than these people, you have no chance trying to play their foul reindeer games. Do not leave this page before you click on that n+1 link above. I want you to see how truly inconsequential that writing is. How you could not even use it for a diversion, a mindless diversion. How there is absolutely nothing there, no value, in any area whatsoever. A Twix has value. Almost everything out there has some form of utility. That story has none. There is no market on earth for that writing. Unless, it's about a cause, and aligning yourself with someone who checks off the right boxes--and she does, and we all know what those boxes are. As someone said to me yesterday, what they like about this work, which they don't read, is there is absolutely nothing to say about it, because they have absolutely nothing to say to each other, and absolutely nothing to say in this life. That's what they are putting forward. That is the system that has to come down.
The first five hours of my week destroy the entirety of this woman's career. You want to be thorough? Let's look at this week, okay? Which, for me, began Saturday. Let's look at it. I just told you I am completing a story called "The Space of the Moment." I also wrote one called "Clam Set." Now, these stories, will change how you see this world. I am at my apex as an artist. I proofed and filed a 2700 word JazzTimes cover story on Charlie Parker. JazzTimes has been around for fifty years. It is the best jazz magazine in the world. I have become their go-to guy. I am publishing with them more than ever, because their editor realizes, this person is my legit artist. As they said on FB, I am making art about art. I received a letter from this individual yesterday, saying how there were virtually no edits in what was termed a sublime 2700 word cover story, and congratulating me on the art I had made. I then placed an essay on "St. James Infirmary" and COVID-19 with this individual. On Monday, I taped the third installment of the Songs of Note Beatles podcast, as the world's foremost Beatles authority. An earlier episode on the Beatles ran this week. There was the film feature in The Daily Beast. There was the TV feature--a great essay of now--in The American Interest. Yesterday, I wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. The back cover for my first novel came in for approval, and it's about to go to the printers. I need to finish this Sam Cooke 33 1/3 book, right now. I need to have this Dzanc story collection proofed, right now. This is my week. This is every week. And this is nothing compared to what a week will look like when I am dealt with free of discrimination, largely because some people will have no choice in that matter. This is but a few days into a week. Every single bloody week is this way, except different, with a stack of other things, newly made works of art, achievements. I also have walked forty miles, ran six, and ran 2600 stairs. And here is me being interviewed on the radio last night, about various things.
Does that seem normal to you? While doing all of these blogs? And that person, right there, doing that every single week, is the most hated person in an entire industry because they do that every single week. And they are infinitely beyond what these subculture people, these mendacious, feckless, talent-free people are doing in their bile, their pettiness, their hate, their pretentiousness. That is publishing, my friends. That right there. Get me Buka Sarkar and her dreadful Bunker Hill Community College Creative Writing 101 nonsense that she can barely even produce, ever, in years and years. That's publishing. The most galling class system there has ever been in this country. One of these people could be guaranteed millions of dollars in revenue if they represented me, but there is no one who would, still. It is about the management of the ego. And I threaten the ego of these people, because I am not below them, I am not comparable to them, I am not remotely similar to them, you cannot bullshit me, I am not your lap dog, and I expect you to work and produce. If I can do this, you can do your fraction of a version of it, and if you don't, I'll know it, and that's not going to go great. I'm here to win, to reach people, to entertain millions, move millions, make millions, not commune as a hateful freak supporting other hateful freaks. They'd rather just have somebody who sucks, who does nothing, who checks off the right boxes. And you don't read because of it, because what this system looks to put out is work by the likes of a Buka Sarkar, and nothing else. She is one of them. And you have to be one of them.
Now what you might wish to say, is, gee, these things are true, could be true, but if you're just saying the truth to these people, well, they don't like that. As someone said to me yesterday, they are all hacks and fakers--their words--and I say unvarnished truth. What you must realize--and I will document this, too--is that with all of these people, for years, for decades, I took it as they shat down my throat. I wrote them with but kindness, decency, politeness--I'd know if one of them had been sick, and I'd ask after their health, and so many tens of thousands of other examples--and I'd take it. I'd take being treated like trash. I'd take the belittlement. The rudeness. The unprofessionalism. And I'd smile. And I'd thank them. I'd ask if I might try again. I'd qualify everything in the least strident terms--"I thought perhaps this might be something you'd possibly like if you might be so kind as to spare a moment and take a look when you're free." We are talking millions--yes, millions--of letters like that, to each and every one of these people.
But you know what? It was never about how I conducted myself. It is about who you are, to them. I used to ride buses for six hours to go meet with these people. To buy them coffee, breakfast, lunch. They hated me more then. I have social skills. You hear me on the radio. You know how I sound. Often, they have no social skills. And they are going to hate someone who does. I have this friend of two and a half decades, and he was always like "go see them, people love you, you're charismatic, that will help." And it made things worse. I did everything, for twenty hours a day, for more than two decades, before I said hardly any truth at all. What were my options? Die in poverty and anonymity? What was the risk of saying the truth? These people were already against me. They already turned everyone they could against me. There came a point, where you could do nothing new to me. But I could do something to you, and there was not anything you could do to refute it, because when you are guilty, you are guilty.
Look at Stephanie Merry at The Washington Post. Do you know how many people have written me about her complete lack of competence, professionalism, ability? Do you know how many people have written me expressing shock and dismay that such a person has a job at The Washington Post? What's she going to do? What's untrue? What didn't happen there? And frankly, if I pasted in the email chain here, which I may do, she would've looked even worse. She had already told me I would never write for her again. I will write for them again. Things will change. If I want it, later, it will be there. She was never going to allow a review of a book by me. Think about these things. Over what was the biggest lie anyone could put forward, that I cannot manage a competent 800-word book review.
Do you know how behind I am in the updates for this site? If you go to the Film, Literature, and Music sections, you'll find that they have not been updated in like two years. The Short fiction section is a fraction of what it should be. And I never got most of what I had--which was but a jot of what I've published--up there in the first place, when I really started working on this site in 2018. So, what you see, in those sections, and everywhere, really, on this site, is a sliver of what has come out, and it leaves out the first at least a dozen years of my career entirely. Look at the work. Look at the quality. The uniform quality. I will get those other links up, but as you may have detected, I am writing fiction, nonfiction, essays, features, op-eds, novels, story collections, music books, film books, this journal, all the time. That's where my focus and time and energy go. I do update the News section regularly, but what you will see there only goes back to spring 2018. Have a scroll. Just go from top to bottom. And remember, that is with so many venues, the vast majority, making sure work does not come out. What would happen if that were not the case? That's with 500 available works sitting here with me right now to move, sell. Stories, essays, books.
Stephanie Merry did what she did, because there is no writer in the world right now who would stand up for themselves like I did, and it is inconceivable to them that someone would, who has this forum--a blog/journal of this nature, written at this level--who also has a historically unique body of work proving exactly what that person is, such that is it impossible to expostulate. I am in a unique situation. Now, one of these people can discriminate against you, but the truth is, if you've done 2% of what I've done, you will be among their chosen crowd they hype--if you are one of them, which you'd pretty much have to be, to have done 2% of what I've done. You'll be happy then. They will reward you, cover you, sing your praises. Other people will be discriminated against, but they won't know any better. They won't have the experience. this is all a bit like behind the curtain of Oz. What are you going to have done? Plowed forward over decades learning the truth? No. You were going to quit. Quickly. Chalk it up to whatever. Maybe you'd call it lack of skill. Maybe you'd say something vague about connections, but not really knowing anything. Maybe you'd be in academia, and you'd meet some people at conferences, have this network of editors, at lit mags, who published your work, built up your CV in places that don't pay which no one reads, but they're cited as "important," and it wasn't your salary, and you had no illusions about reaching the world. You taught, your students looked up to you because someone like Speer Morgan at The Missouri Review published your fiction, because he liked you, every three years. You'd never know about any of this. But, if you were someone who published thousands of works, on everything, constantly, and had been in venue after venue after venue, the appearance in any one of a number of which would make someone else's career, send them on their way, trigger the book deal at the major, trigger the Guggenheim, what you'd find you could do is say the truth, if you were in the unique position of being treated a unique way, even by the regularly deplorable, unethical standards of these people. Which brings us to right here, right now.
A unique situation. With a unique person. With a unique track record. A unique body of work. A unique skill set.
What was supposed to happen was 1. She could do anything she wanted to me, label me anything she wished, no matter how inaccurate, and it would have become the reality, insofar as they act like people who create a reality that becomes the law, the status quo 2. She'd get away with it. 3. That paper would never review my books, and what you would assume, if you didn't know my work, is my books didn't merit coverage there.
What you see with her is what is happening everywhere, she just happened to give more overt information in a series of emails. What were my options? Let that pass for the reality? Or say something--that is, the truth? I really had no choice, did I? And if you went back through the emails, as I had some idea of what was happening, had happened, your heart would break to see me begging, bending, bowing, scraping, kissing the ass of someone who was doing a pretty bad thing. You'd think, "how the hell does he keep it together, I'd lose it on this person?" What I have bottled inside of me would floor you. People see these emails. And they ask me all the time, over years, how I am able to be so nice to these people. A Brad Morrow. When they see what Morrow has done, how he talks to me, how he "accidentally" sends emails to me about me, ripping me, "intended" for someone else. And yet, when COVID struck, I sent him a kind note, just said I hoped he was doing well, he was hanging in, his health was good, his spirits strong in this strange time. I do that all the time. All the time. To people who abuse me. This wasn't a case of "he's a rebel, he rubs people the wrong way, he just comes out throwing truth bombs." It was never like that. What it has been like, would break your heart. And make you pretty angry, when you saw what went on on the other side.
Yesterday I was telling someone about how a publicist at one of my publishers had written me an email titled "Fuck you," with the body of the email then reading "Fuck you!" This publicist--and I really could go into some detail here; she had a press, she hooked up an editor at this other press that hired her as publicist--would spend her days on Facebook shilling for her friends, who were often authors at other presses. She would not reply to my emails. She made no effort for my book. She didn't like me. We were not friends. I was not in her literary circles. But this is still work, this is still jobs. I was on the phone with the editor of this press--who really deserves his own lengthy entry on here--who was completely lazy, incompetent. This guy also phoned me once to say that I should quit writing. Get a different job. Can you even imagine that? Same editor who didn't bother to do a print test copy of the book, make sure the cover came out okay, which it did not.
And this editor starts asking me about how it's going with the publicist, she's working hard on my behalf, etc. And I say, she hasn't said a word to me in months. And this guy, who had no clue what was going on, says that he thought we spoke every day. I didn't bash this woman, I didn't ask this guy to say anything to her. This is five years ago. And I also knew that there was an embargo in this industry of covering my work. And those were easier times for me, because I was going to get a lot more successful over the next five years, and I'd grow deeper into my abilities, and that meant a lot more hate. I didn't press the subject. I also knew this woman for what she was.
Well, the guy says something to her. I suspect that went along the lines of, "Hey, he's one of our authors, and I was surprised to learn you haven't talked to this writer in four months, his book just came out, you're the publicist, you need to reach out to him." There wasn't much more he could have said, unless do his own thing, and read her the riot act, but I don't think he was the kind of guy who ever really cared that much. He hops around from press to press. As I said, I did not complain, I did not bash, I did not say this woman is not particularly stable, she's not competent. Which I believed. So, she sends me the dual "fuck you" email. Nothing else.
Yesterday, I was telling someone about this. The person who, I think, is under this impression I lob these truth bombs, scorch the earth. And that was never the case, until you took it so far, the immorality, the discrimination, over years, often over decades, that finally you forced me to move. Because I am not going to die in poverty and anonymity. I'm just going to do it, man. I am not going to be their willing victim. I am not going to lie down and die for them, which is what they want. Which is how they win. And I am especially not going to lie down and die for them when I believe I have an ability that no one else has ever had, or one even really close to it, and I can impact this world, to the good, a lot. I told this man yesterday what I wrote to this woman. I told him that I said it was unfortunate she took this tack, and that I understood that we all have our things we are going through, and I knew she was contending with some matters that were stressful for her at the time. I believe she was having trouble selling her house. Something like that. And I added that with my situation, it probably did not matter, right now, one way or the other, the attempts of a publicist on my behalf. But I said this was not productive, I certainly did no wrong by her, and she was negligent in her duties, her job. You have to try and do your job. And I wished her well, and good health.
Now, as I was saying this to this man yesterday, I thought, "I don't think he believes me at all." Because that's not what most people would do if they received that email, and in that situation. So I actually went and found the email, and I sent it to this guy, because I didn't want him to think I was a liar or a hothead. Because I'm neither. Not a tiny bit either way. With this particular woman, it was what it was, and it wasn't going to matter in my career, it wasn't someone making sure to keep me out of The New Yorker, even if that person knows exactly what I am--and believe me, there are plenty of people at The New Yorker like that--David Haglund, Michael Agger, and many others we can get into later, though I'd prefer not to--doing just that right now. I said to this man yesterday that what I decided to do was try and show empathy. I think this guy was very surprised. But if you know me, and if you see those emails over the years, and people like Norberg have seen millions of them, actual millions, you'll see that's pretty typical.
I never want to go to war with you. And I am in a war right now. I never want to have to expose you, put you up on this blog. It's not what I want to do.
All I ever wanted was to have my work get the shot it deserves. Not even a fair shot, necessarily. A vague, .01% semblance of a shot. Because that's all I need. I can get beyond all of this, with that much of a shot. But .0000%? That's worlds harder.
But I still will get it done.
Now I'm going to go and make some art, and kick some ass. Because I am not losing to these people, and I am going to reach the world. And this might sound strange, but I am getting more confident all the time in my ability to get past these people, and take down quite a few of them in the process, or after the fact. I am seeing this work as I have never seen it. What I am doing, what I have, cannot be kept down forever.