In its first appearance on the scene, The Fiction Collective published three novels which were generally considered “experimental,” most likely because the Collective itself was a new idea. At that time the books were reviewed as a trio, which probably didn’t increase their chances for a fair trial. But, on the whole, they did well. The major attack on the group involved the concept of a collective—a term which implies mass-oriented, non-elitist literature—and how this collectivist principle was not carried out by  the group.

In the first place, the Collective is subsidized and distributed by Braziller, an establishment publishing house, and the books are not that cheap. Also, the books are by and large noncommercial—not likely to fall into the hands of readers of Jacqueline Susann or Erica Jong. So, the attack went, the Collective is really just another token dealt out by the liberal industry, and the authors themselves are either fools or frauds to participate in the game.

Being Marxist in America is well-nigh impossible, and for many writers writing well is the best revenge. Yet most writers who are committed to the subversion of language wind up either rejected or scattered through the pages of small magazines. The mass of fiction-readers don’t want any more trouble than they already have; they want to be instructed and entertained simultaneously. So-called quality fiction is, like brown rice, consigned to the shop for fanatics.

But this is an old story. The question is not whether these writers are Marxist or Capitalist dupes but whether they write well. Clearly a great deal of positive energy has gone into creating The Fiction Collective, and the attacks are inevitable: they are all white males; they are all intellectual. They are, above all, in print, and it is a lead to be followed by others.

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