It’s easy enough to show that with his Believer essay on the Underground Literary Alliance, Tom Bissell was acting not as a journalist, but a propagandist. The question remains: Why was the essay republished?
Here’s what Bissell had to say about his decision-making process, in an interview done this year with Owen King for The Rumpus:
“When I was putting this thing together I looked over those essays and asked myself, bloodlessly, ‘Do I even want this out there again?’”
Since the ULA essay was included, we can only conclude that Tom Bissell wanted that essay out there again, with all its smears and distortions—even though the ULA was inactive and disbanded. We might conclude that Dave Eggers himself wanted the essay out there. Additions were made to the essay inaccurately portraying Eggers as a zinester—changes that had to have been approved by him.
What did Bissell and Eggers think when they reread the extensive middle portion of the essay linking the ULA to the worst crimes of the Bolsheviks—a comparison which couldn’t have been more inapt? Could they fail to notice this was one of the most malicious slurs ever made against a writers group? What was their agenda? Do they truly fear the ULA’s indie message that much, that they had to keep kicking us even when we were no longer around?
Forgive me for finding it reprehensible.