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Small Press Mafia. 8th House of Montreal. A Review, part 2. A Wider Perspective.

Previously we have provided a brief overview of the shenanigans surrounding the small press publisher, 8th House of Montreal.*

We examined the curious militant refusal of the publisher, Emery Moreira, to engage with the media and what can only be described as his near allergic response to any attempt by writers associated with 8th House to get him to act on their behalf, and generate some buzz.

We also examined the extraordinary slipshod, or what some might characterize as either incompetence or negligence, efforts at securing reviews. In particular we examined not just that 8th House had submitted an Advanced Reader Copy of a novel to 50 of the wrong reviewers, but that when confronted by the author about this spectacular fuck-up, Moreira’s response was avoidance, and accusations that he could not be held responsible for failing to get the author’s work reviewed by The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Needless to say, the author had no illusions about securing reviews in those establishment rags, and was more concerned with the fact that Moreira had taken a Pynchon-esque post mod literary romp, and submitted it for review to people who review vampire romances, and vampire romances set on space stations.

Except for the reviewers Moreira sent it to who it turns out, have bogus email addresses and don’t review anything no matter how existentially tormented or bored the vampires are. This last point deserves some extra attention and not because we think there’s a pressing need to address the crisis among existentially tormented or terminally bored vampires.

What we mean is that if you were laundering money, and the excess cash was generated by any number of nefarious enterprises, and you had a small network of assorted sociopaths and morons working for you, and you needed to invent hours of work in order to have a spreadsheet that you could show to the tax man, and wouldn’t look like it was a cut and paste job put together by a gang of bong chewing elves, you could do worse than to outsource submitting manuscripts to some pinhead, who you pay in 8ths.

On the other hand, as is often the case with such enterprises, the pinheads, being pinheads, and the air being thick with reality altering fumes, mistakes are made, and the mistake in this case, is, perhaps, that said pinhead, invented a list and forgot to cover their tracks. And unless you’re the government saying, yes mistakes were made, while you point resolutely into the future and present a combination of off the shelf humility and arrogance towards the cameras, you are, often, completely fucked.

But, we digress.

After all, under the heading of Occam’s Razor and Shaving Cream, for all we know the simplest explanation is the best explanation, and 8th House of Montreal is not engaged in anything untoward, and is instead just catastrophically stupid.

And to be clear we’re just spit balling. We are not saying that Emery Moreira is a crook or that he’s laundering money. We are an opinion blog devoted to speculating as in, for example, our recent consideration of whether or not Mitch McConnell is the spawn of a rabid weasel and an amoeba, hatched in a bunker and involving a petri dish and the fossilized or cryogenically frozen head of a German camp doctor.

After all, no one in their right mind would actually believe that about McConnell and instead would believe the far more simple and thus likely notion that he’s a lubed up, slithering jape of a man, with the conscience of a sadistic plantation owner, who enjoys nocturnal visits to the slave quarters.

In other words, a reactionary aristocratic southerner.

But we again, digress.

The thing is, that however incompetent Emery Moreira is, however sketchy his publishing house is, what strikes us is the extent to which there appears to be an epidemic on the loose in which everywhere you turn, everything and everyone is crooked, and or just being run with the attitude that it’s normal for big ships to collide with icebergs, space shuttles should explode, cities should vanish beneath the waves, and that complaining about any of it means you’re some sort of malcontent, and if you don’t shut up, you’re going to fall down a long steep flight of stairs, six or seven times in a row, and when you’re family or your friends ask how that’s possible, the authorities will say, maybe you’re friend was just clumsy and besides, what’s wrong with running a ship into an iceberg or turning New Orleans and Miami into aquatic theme parks.

Small presses in this context are curiosities. They sprang up for two reasons. First because home computers and printers became relatively inexpensive, and secondly because the religion of deregulation resulted in morbidly obese entertainment empires, consuming independent publishing houses the way out of control diabetics consume boxes of donuts.

At the same time universities desperate for cash opened MFA factories, that crank out useless know nothing pieces of paper the same way “culinary schools” crank out desperately poor white people who all think they will be the next celebrity chef, and reach escape velocity and magically leave their dead end post industrial waste land behind, along with a mountain of debt which has them shackled to the company store the way a crack addict is shackled to their pipe.

In other words the same rickety con job that is the rest of Capitalist Realism sank its greasy tendrils into publishing and the result is an ocean of small presses receiving tens of thousands of submissions of mostly crap that they can’t read, don’t want and will never publish. It means contests that are rigged by definition because five readers can’t possibly read the equivalent of twenty copies of War and Peace each, in the time allotted and the ratio of writers to venues is like trying to squeeze your balls through the eye of a needle. You might succeed but at what cost?

Into this fetid swamp and self-sustaining echo chamber, are injected desperate literary agents, terrified every minute of every day they might lose their jobs, and therefore utterly unwilling to take any sort of risk, corporate hacks, soulless accountants, and a handful of writerly egos so massively inflated that they could double as parade floats, and given the line-ups at most literary festivals, they often do just that.

The result of all of this is not just the boilerplate faux reviews that have all the literary substance of what you can read on the side panel of a cereal box, but are in fact cardboard cutouts that have nothing to do with actual literary criticism, but act as generic ballots, that are part of a conveyor belt of bought and paid for reputations because the “writers” are products being manufactured and sold the same way large corporations sell everything else.

And lastly, the final ingredient in this vapid and toxic bilge, is the insistence among all of these swine that publishing remains a small batch, artisanal endeavor in which talent rises to the top like a fine cream, when in truth it floats like a dead fish in a toxic algae bloom.

One of the side effects of this kulturkampf is the proliferation of small presses who are just big enough to be useless. To writers.

The growing consensus that it is the writers job to write, and work some other job where they are barely making enough to pay the rent, and that then they should also work as the publisher’s unpaid PR hack to sell their book is nothing more or less than an extension of the non-union slave labor ethos, that dominates the world of the corporatocracy which advertises for “unpaid interns” or offers artists the chance to “network” while providing skilled labor for no pay.

Craigslist which carved out a hole inside the advertising revenue stream of newspapers and left them as burnt out husks, has itself become a cesspool of moral termites.

Thousands of listings offer photographers, painters, and other artisans the “opportunity” to be exploited by jackals at non-paying gigs and who dangle the prospect of meeting someone who will pay you for your work. Except of course what those prospects see is someone desperate, who is available for free, has no bargaining power and can safely be told, take it or leave it. Because the debt factories, aka, the art schools, are cranking out debt slaves like Lucy at the chocolate factory and the conveyor belt is cranked to maximum.

And so, it should surprise no one that Emery Moreira and 8th House of Montreal are essentially no different than a thousand other small presses who have a budget just big enough to ensure the writer is fucked. And that in turn should surprise no one who understands that every corner of the system is infected with the rot of the cult of the free hand of the market.

Caveat emptor should be on every dollar bill, and every coin.

And instead of some long dead president the money should show Alfred E Newman on one side and P.T. Barnum on the other.



Update 7/6/19

We note with amusement the “review” below that not only has positive things to say about 8th House of Montreal generally but that it specifically opens with a claim that they are very good at promoting their authors.

We take note that the publisher remains a ghostly non presence, that there are still no profiles or interviews and we suggest that the “review” is a paid for favor; a news-speak bit of flim flam and that the praise is a kind of, she doth protest too much me thinks, designed to stem some PR hemorrhage and if you read it take note of the tepid negative criticism which in this context suggests a coordinated effort to say something  almost harsh so as to cover someone’s tracks.

See the piece here:

8th House Publishing: Accepting Book Submissions

4 comments on “Small Press Mafia. 8th House of Montreal. A Review, part 2. A Wider Perspective.

  1. There has long been something odd about literature as a field.

    It’s often been the playground of propaganda, as the US promoted American studies and as the CIA hired literature professors as spymasters. Also, you have the US government subsidizing specific artists and writer workshops, as part of a scheme to influence popular culture.

    Then you have non-profit corporations such as Amazon that, with CIA and Pentagon connections, maybe is being run as a front organization. As for “small presses”, how many of them are actually independent as opposed to being owned and operated by one of the few media mega-corporations?


    1. rauldukeblog says:

      I’d break this into two general categories. The first is the systemic corruption that is part of the DNA of capitalism which is really a type of organized crime. the cult of the invisible hand of the market breads corruption and marketing as propaganda spreads the lie that all is well and in the case specifically of literature/the arts it spreads the lie that it is a kind of hermetically sealed bubble that is not dominated by all the same issues as the rest of the corporatocracy. A perfect illustration of this is writing contests. Many are run by major universities and publishers and a lot of small presses run them as well. they are completely corrupt.

      They average several thousand submissions each over a period of 3 to 5 months and the average length is 250 to 300+ pages “read” by 3 to 5 readers. The math works out to each “reader” “reading” a dozen War and Peace length amounts a dozen times in the time allotted before the primary group is winnowed down and a batch of about 6 is sent to the “judges” who select the winner.

      This format is standard and clearly is a con. No one can read that much in that amount of time

      A teacher I knew at Johns Hopkins told me that a famous writer they knew had offered them a job as a “reader” for a contest.

      They received a box of roughly 50,000+ words full of manuscripts and had three days to select a winner. they called the famous writer to say there was no way it could be done and he responded: oh don’t worry. Just read the first page, the middle page and the last of each one and select the one you like and that’s the winner of the contest.

      Anyone who thinks that’s an exception rather than the rule is an idiot. That’s how it’s done across the country.

      It is also the “literary” version of the standard corruption you find everywhere in every other industry.

      As to the second general group there is no doubt that the federal mafia has its hands in a lot of places. At the upper echelons like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Hopkins and so on, it is a mixture of covert and overt.

      Hopkins of course is located smack in the middle being situated down the road from Ft. Meade and DC and having a DC campus. Baltimore has numerous offices with identifying plaques announcing them as the “Center for Homeland Security and the Study of International Slang.

      There really is such an office.

      And it sounds like something from any number of novels.

      And then of course you have the covert ops which involve professors who act as both operators and scouts for the spooks.

      I knew someone who received a discrete invitation to an office for a major university with an office in the downtown areas of a major city. It was exactly as advertised – the admin office for the university.

      Of course it was also a way for the spooks to interview people for recruitment.

      They only operate in hidden lairs in Bond films or films that spoof bond films.

      In reality they are closer to a Mickey D franchise than not.

      That brings me to the issue of how successful they’ve been in fulfilling Baudelaire’s line that the ‘devil’s greatest trick was convincing everyone that he didn’t exist.’

      Most people go around acting as if front companies are either the stuff of spy movies or are the purview of gangsters

      The truth of course is that the spooks are deeply imbedded in the basic fabric of “civil society.”

      And to add to all of this – that is a staple of both “spy novels” like Le Carre & co but also the hybrid genre of people like Pynchon where it’s “literary” but woven through with the material from “spy genre” novels.

      And of course the mass media as well as the alternative media maintain the Platonic ghetto so literature is kept safely tucked away from any mainstream debate and the circle is complete.

      Lastly, specifically regarding 8th house I met a writer associated with them and have no doubt he’s up to his eyeballs in assorted schemes. I took a deep dive into this sort of thing in my analysis of Marcy Wheeler’s rather naïve view of the Steele Dossier – and in a rebuttal of a New Yorker attack on a Bob Dylan lyric where he says “to live outside the law means being honest everywhere” or something like that. My point being that Bob had it right and was talking about the reality of living in a corrupt system where the “good guys” are in fact the gangsters and the “law” is just the blunt end of the gang.

      But the New Yorker as propaganda arm of the system and as huate bourgeois aficionados of being proper wouldn’t see it that way and of course routinely publish writers who either are corporate tools or corporate tools with connections to even larger more aggressive and robust three letter corporations.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All of this control is how the members of the majority who are to the left of the mainstream don’t realize that they are a majority. This control is perfect and absolute, that is until it eventually fails. And as such, revolution is impossible until it is inevitable. Until then, the system will continue on as if all is normal with amazing capacity of plugging holes as the ship slowly takes on water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      “This control is perfect and absolute, that is until it eventually fails. And as such, revolution is impossible until it is inevitable.”

      That’s a pitch perfect analysis. A place is ‘safe” until the moment it’s not. Expanded to the wider system you’ve nailed it. And of course the media heroin keeps being injected straight into the eyeballs of the junkies who are both agitated and in a stupor and in political terms reduced to tepid faux opposition. Part of that is the latent reactionary nature of the liberals but it is also the direct result of the action of the establishment and generational habits.

      I note with amusement that in the last 48 hours two dowagers of the system HRC and Eric we don’t need to show judges evidence Holder have come out in favor of dems no longer being “civil” to the uncivil repubs.

      While amusing it is also to be taken as a serious sign that the establishment bladder is trying to absorb the brewing rage and get out in front of it before it races ahead of them.

      Liked by 1 person

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