Recently I stood in a crowded Chinatown basement while a handsome, gray-haired man in a suit read a prose poem entitled “Second Date Idea.” It begins:

I want to chain you to a pipe. Stop taking birth control. Move into my sweaty apartment. Let go of your possessions. Your pets. I’ll ladle water down your gullet. Sop up your waste. You’ll live off fruits I baby-bird down your throat as I impregnate you again and again. Build a bunker underground for our hundreds of offspring. With whom I’ll also breed.

I craned around to peruse the audience, mostly people in their twenties and thirties, decked out in fashionable red-state mufti. This was the downtown set of the 2020s, with its notorious appetite for transgression. How were they taking this guy? Some of the men were laughing and grinning; I didn’t notice any women who were. The guy in question is the notorious internet author Delicious Tacos, who has been blogging since 2012 and whose self-published books have racked up impressive sales numbers and hundreds of five-star reviews on Amazon. An interview with Tacos in Countere magazine is prefaced with the assertion that his works are “consistently in the top 1% of book sales.” One thing I can say for sure is that Tacos had been on my radar since long before the reading. Somehow, despite not having a publisher, his work manages to reach the people who find his provocations interesting.

Back when Tacos began posting on his blog, a gathering of ostentatiously right-wing hipsters in New York would have been hard to imagine. Today, however, our culture has reached a point when someone can migrate from the dank, un-hip caverns of the online manosphere to the more picturesque underground of bohemia. Our avant-garde artists and writers have seen the supposedly rebellious slogans of the left appear on dating app billboards and in workplace emails. To be against the mainstream now, they must delve into the forbidden counterculture that lives in places like 4chan. What does this mean for the future of American literature?

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