New York is a publishing center, the business center of American culture. Here culture is prepared, processed and distributed. Here the publishers with their modern apparatus for printing, billing, shipping, editing, advertising and accounting, with their specialized personnel, wait for manuscripts. Their expenses are tremendous so they cannot afford to wait too long; they must find material somewhere, attract writers or fabricate books in their editorial offices. New York, of course, includes Washington and Boston. Some of its literary mandarins actually live in Cambridge, in New Haven, Bennington, New Brunswick, Princeton; a few are in London and Oxford. These officials of high culture write for the papers, sit on committees, advise, consult, set standards, define, drink cocktails, gossip — they give body to New York’s appearance of active creativity, its apparently substantial literary life. But there is no substance. There is only the idea of a cultural life. There are manipulations, rackets and power struggles; there is infighting; there are reputations, inflated and deflated. Bluster, vehemence, swagger, fashion, image-making, brain-fixing — these are what the center has to offer…. New York, then, is not the literary capital of America. It is simply the center of the culture business. It manufactures artistic lifestyles for the American public.

Saul Bellow, 1967