Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Where’s Bissell?

Why doesn’t Dave Eggers prod brilliant essayist Tom Bissell to come on this blog to defend the accuracy of his Believer Books essay on the Underground Literary Alliance? For Eggers and his cult, er, crew, that would solve a lot of problems.

That is, unless there’s no accuracy to defend. I’ve yet to discuss the most vulnerable part of that essay—Bissell’s dishonest handling of the ULA’s exposure of grants controversies.


I intend to show that the essay’s original purpose was to defend a handful of well-connected writers known ten years ago as “The New White Guys” who, in the ULA’s eyes, were abusing the arts grants process. I intend to stick that essay to its promoters and defenders like a tar baby.

How will Eggers, and reviewers like Maria Bustillos, feel knowing they’ve backed a reactionary essay? An essay which took the side of powerful writers against a writers group that was always completely powerless; against a writers group which represented the underdog because it consisted of literary underdogs? What will Eggers and company think knowing they supported and approved an essay which targeted for abuse indie writers, the most indie writers around, writers divorced from the conglomerate monopolized machine, including trannie zinester Urban Hermitt and other harmless free spirits? How will advocates of social justice like Eggers look backing an essay that trashed an outfit whose purpose was to advocate for social justice in the literary realm?


Very bold, Mr. Bissell. Very brave. A look at your book of essays shows you prefer easy or acceptable targets, whether a low rent writers group, or a low rent filmmaker, or an easily smeared neo-con villainous (“Boo! Hiss!”) travel writer. Would you ever choose for examination a literary group with actual sources of funding and a high profile—a group you actually know something about—such as the McSweeney’s organization? A target with which you’d have to buck the approval of the literary crowd?

But that’s not how you play the game, is it?

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