Monica Byrne: Who’dda Thunk It?

FIFTH IN A SERIES ON THE JUNOT DIAZ BOSTON REVIEW CONTROVERSY

AS ANYONE following the Junot Diaz/Boston Review controversy knows, sci-fi author Monica Byrne has been one of his main accusers– describing on her Facebook page his alleged bullying of her at a literary event, while also citing McCarthy-style a list of 38 unnamed names with similar accusations. (“I hold in my hand. . . .”)

Anyone reading her description of what happened had to be immediately sympathetic. It’s only that Diaz defenders have aggressively looked into the matter that another side of Ms. Byrne is emerging.

Namely, that making unsupported allegations seems to be her stock-in-trade.
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HERE’s a photo of Monica Byrne taken from her blog, Branding While Female, dated November 4, 2015:

Monica Byrne photo-on-8-25-15-at-10-05-pm

The caption accompanying the photo reads, “That time I trolled Donald Trump with a bloody middle finger.”
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NOT TOTALLY SURPRISING then that in June 2017 she was the source of unverified rumors that Melania Trump was having an affair with the head of security at the Trump Tower lobby. You might remember the story– it ran in quite a number of media outlets, including these:

http://perezhilton.com/2017-06-02-melania-trump-donald-affair-head-security-tiffanys-tower-years-monica-byrne-report

https://www.someecards.com/news/politics/melania-trump-cheating-rumors/

https://www.lovebscott.com/oh-really-melania-trump-reportedly-affair-head-security-tiffany-co-trump-tower-lobby-years

https://www.inquisitr.com/4271083/melania-trump-affair-rumor-first-lady-mocked-on-twitter-over-alleged-cheating/

https://us.blastingnews.com/news/2017/06/man-melania-trump-is-allegedly-cheating-with-has-photo-shared-on-social-media-001749225.html

BUT AFTER ALL, it was only Donald Trump, right? Everybody hates the guy. No blowback to speak of against Monica.

Apparently emboldened, Monica Byrne this year joined the chorus of accusers against Junot Diaz. Did she, as some claim, smell the opportunity for easy publicity?

AT THE MOMENT things don’t look good for the anti-Junot Diaz side. (Carmen Maria Machado already fairly well discredited.) We’ll have to see how this finally plays out.

(p.s. I’ve taken a lot of heat from Junot defenders for not immediately disbelieving the accusations against him. As I said in the second of the posts about this issue, I was not about to rush to judgement either way.)

STAY TUNED!

-Karl Wenclas on the New Pop Lit News beat.

Publishing Industry Feeding Frenzy

scbwiconference

THE LATEST big news in publishing are the charges of sexual harassment taking place at writers conferences put on by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This must-read post at School Library Journal is revealing on several levels– particularly if you read the comments, of which there are many. It reminds me of a fish tank in which the fish have begun feeding on themselves.

There are as many dramatic moments within the comments, in fact, as in a novel. One is when author and diversity advocate Tristina Wright is herself accused of harassment. Another is when the son of SCBWI‘s founder¬†Lin Oliver¬†jumps in to defend his mother against charges of inaction.

Tristina

(Tristina Wright.)
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Before making any kind of judgement about this matter, one should understand what writers conferences are about. Aside from making money off wannabe authors, they’re about networking, schmoozing, and socializing– often accompanied afterward by ample amounts of booze. Introvert writers away from home, brushing up against– and no doubt lavishly complimenting– well-known writers. Stuff will happen.

alexieatweinsteinbooksparty

(Well-known author Sherman Alexie, one of the accused, at a Weinstein Books party.)
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The situation with SCBWI is especially pronounced. According to photos, women outnumber men at their conferences ten-to-one. Put a wandering male in that situation– especially one with a too-healthy ego– and he’s going to feel like a kid in a candy store. An environment designed for a stray predator.

scbwi2

(Photo from recent SCBWI conference.)
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Might the problem be with the conferences themselves? Beyond this, with the way the entire industry is set up, putting writers– the talent– in a position of marked inferiority?Making them face from Day One a series of barriers to leap over and hoops to jump through: instructors, agents, editors, publishers; each one holding the carrot, the desired book contract, at arm’s length. Does anyone believe that with this situation, a ton of machinations, ass-kissing, and real abuse would not take place, human nature being what it is?

There has to be a better way. At New Pop Lit, we’re devoted to finding and constructing that better way.