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Horrified that something in Brooklyn was happening without them, each group stormed into the bar, aiming for a hostile takeover. What followed was not a bloodless coup, but the first major engagement of what would soon be known as The War of the Midlist Novelists. There would only be two major engagements in the three month conflict—beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park was the unlikely scene of the second and final skirmish of the war.
It was a short war, but it was an astonishingly bloody one. The sides—anyone who has read their books knows they could not be more unfamiliar with combat—held fast to brutal, ineffective tactics. One noted military historian described the war as “The Battle of Pelennor Fields as fought by middle-aged LARPers.”
Though generally unskilled in combat, each camp committed to its own idiosyncratic methods. The Twee prefered an ancient art called “Sad Magic”, which consisted mainly of subtle guilt trips, soft crying, and cloying praise. The Slobs, of course, used martial techniques that conjured images of The Garbage Pail Kids. The Middle Brow used archery and battle axes to dispose of their enemies, after first accusing them of being “self-indulgent and willfully obscure,” while Jennifer Egan used her powers of telepathy to implode the brains of her enemies. The Dirtbags wielded their Selby corpse, along with their nearly endless army of Jonathan Ames’s children. Their numbers were matched only by the seemingly inexhaustible horde of n+1 interns, who were only armed in the back ranks so as to kill deserters (“You should want to intern here. This is a privilege.” - Keith Gessen).
Both battles were spectacles of filth and degradation. All alliances fragmented in the manic scenes of fire, blood, and human waste. The empty screams of innocent bystanders were indistinguishable from the guttural howling of the bloodthirsty artists responsible for the tragedy. When the fighting finally ended, the two battlefields were ruined wastelands devoid of anything save pestilence, the occasional corpse, and the nightmarish grins of rag and bone men picking their way through the broken fields. There were survivors, of course. There always are. But with all the blood spilled and all the lives lost... as night fell on the battlefield, no definitive resolution had been reached on these windswept fields.