Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gaming the System

There's a curious part of one of Tom Bissell's recent Yahoo News agitprop pieces on the upcoming election, wherein Bissell, in a discussion of one of his trademark either-or choices, discusses gaming the system.

Why is this curious?

It's curious because in his Believer essay on the ULA, reprinted this year in Bissell's Magic Hours, Tom Bissell defends wealthy writers who have gamed the literary system-- Bissell's own field, and therefore one he should be most concerned about. He notably defends and/or overlooks the activities of Rick Moody, who's gamed literary nonprofit foundations for years. One of the more blatant examples is Moody's relationship with Joel Conarroe, who first defended Moody over an ill-advised Guggenheim grant, then was later appointed President of PEN America Center due to Moody's recommendation and influence. One quick example of many, all of them amply documented.

Which leads us to ask: Does Tom Bissell really care about those who "game the system"? Or does his always-distorted stance not depend on who's paying him?

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