Thanks to a Facebook Friend diming him out, we’ve been able to witness Believer hatchet man Tom Bissell apparently chuckling with superrich guy Daniel Handler and others about his attack on the Underground Literary Alliance. It’s all a big joke to him. He snorts at the idea that the literary “war” he mentions is between the powerful and the powerless—but that’s exactly the case.
I invite him to bring his disdainful attitude here, to address his own republished essay. (Some of my points about the essay are available to read at the left.)
The demonstrable fact is that Tom Bissell acted, with his Believer essay, in defense of the 1%, and against the authentic literary voice of the 99%. Read the friggin’ essay!
Well, maybe that was 2003, the world has changed, and what Bissell said then isn’t applicable now, so he shouldn’t be held to his 2003 statements. If so, then why reprint the essay? I for one had moved on, avoiding the Bissell matter to focus on other literary issues, and on my new ebooks. That the essay reappeared after the ULA was broken, its members scattered to the wind—the major behind-the-scenes guy dead—makes it worse. The reappearance created an opportunity for the perpetuation of the same distorted stereotypes about the ULA by members of the Insider herd, in prominent and highly influential venues. If there’s a “war,” Bissell reignited it.
The attitude is of all-powerful Rome versus a defeated Carthage.
Directed to this blog, why didn’t Bissell and Company have anything to say at it?
If the action was payback for past perceived misdeeds by myself or the ULA, I’ll point out that the ULA always operated above-board, documented our exposes of corruption, and made ourselves available for full discussion of those issues. Going up against extremely powerful and monied personages, if we didn’t dot every i we would’ve been immediately silenced. As it was, the other side ran away from, and shut down, debate every time because on the issues we were invariably right.
Now that years of smears and distortions against myself and my former colleagues are fully on the record, branding us, from those who wield great power in the halls of American literature, I ask for only a few small things from Mr. Bissell. I ask that he:
-Acknowledge that reprinting the Believer essay was a mistake.
-Acknowledge the bias of the essay.
-Disavow the underhanded actions of his friend Daniel Handler, who over the years utilized a number of dirty tricks against the ULA—good for laughs, no doubt. Evidence of those tricks are fully available. This includes discussion of the fake letter that appeared in The Ruminator journal. (I should consult a cut-rate lawyer about that one.)
I ask that Bissell make these disavowals in a visible public forum, such as the widely read McSweeney’s Internet web site.
Lacking this, I’ll continue to shine a spotlight on Tom Bissell, but also on his patron Dave Eggers, who it seems must have approved the republication of the egregious essay—it’d be surprising if he hadn’t. As we all know, the Dave doesn’t enjoy that kind of spotlight.