Monday, September 12, 2005

The Eggers Juggernaut?

From the ULA's perspective, everything seems to be going "The Dave's" way.

We've been on the defensive since July; betrayed from within, attacked from outside. We're like the Achaeans at their ships in The Iliad, on the verge of being pushed back into the sea with nary an Ajax or Patroclus in sight to save the day, much less an Achilles.

Eggers, meanwhile, allied with rich and powerful lit-Insiders like Rick Moody, expands his empire as he strengthens his connections with the leading conglomerate publishing companies. Can anyone remember, or believe, that Eggers once portrayed his venture as alternative and D-I-Y? He misrepresented himself from the beginning. Now he's the center of energy and power of establishment literature.

Folks at small lit-journals like The Ruminator will naturally be afraid to offend the Eggers gang-- would sooner besmirch their own reputation by letting stand without correction a fake letter in their pages. Who can blame them? If Eggers can force the Atlantic to cave in to his will, as he did a few years ago when they were about to publish a potentially critical article on him, what can one expect from The Ruminator?

Lit-bloggers are likewise cowed. They'll contort their arguments to avoid criticizing Dave and his allies, portraying those who stand up to him as crazy. The most prominent lit-blogger engages in around-the-clock adulation, prepared at any moment to eviscerate his enemies.

In this past Sunday's New York Times we saw an article which is similarly fawning. More than that, it was a free advertisement for one of his publications! Titled "Among the Believers," written by A.O. Scott, the article gymnastically links Dave Eggers in a laudatory if not idolistic way with a new lit project by Keith Gessen called "n +1." Gessen and his friends state "it is time to say what you mean"-- with the unsaid caveat that ideas have meaning in the exclusive realm of established literature only if spoken by the right people.

Eggers has to be chortling over the Scott article. Why? Keith Gessen was the author of the infamous killed Atlantic article which had irritated The Dave. (It was a 95% puff piece.) Gessen was upset at the time-- his friends got me a copy-- yet declined to voice his complaints publicly. Gessen balked when given the opportunity by "Page Six" to express his anger, when asked to "say what you mean." He instead made a careful, inocuous statement. Now Eggers's one-time antagonist is allowed to crawl into the spotlight, in an article whose main thrust is the greatness of Dave!-- "Believers" in big letters in the headline, photo included of Eggers's wife; Gessen's project a secondary consideration. Gessen's radical brainstorm idea, the sudden lightbulb realization that maybe it's time to speak with honesty and clarity (which for the ULA comes naturally) is, 1984-style, claimed for its true originator, the antithesis of the notion; the epitomy of postmodern fakery-- Dave Eggers!

Whatever idea is thought suddenly trendy, there will be found beforehand, like a Big Brother billboard, the smirking mug of The Dave.

But, after all his setbacks and struggles, Keith Gessen is at last taken seriously, adorned with blazer and tie and allowed entrance into The Club. Not through the servants' entrance either! There he strides through the front door, little worse for the wear, albeit noticeably cautious and tame, his eyes rather blank, rather glazed, as if he'd been hypnotized or lobotomized.

Bow to Eggers obsequiously, beg for forgiveness, and maybe you also will be given a portion of acceptability. Or maybe not. After all, it depends on the unpredictable whim and humor of The Dave.

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