Johannes Lichtman seems willing to take sole responsibility for the Oxford American smear of the Underground Literary Alliance, as if the review, and the malicious way it was written, was entirely his idea.
It’s possible Lichtman bought the Bissell/Believer false narrative wholly. There’s no accounting for gullibility. Lichtman may have thought ULAers were indeed semi-sentient backwoods “Ranger Rick” Neanderthals scarcely capable of writing their own names. Like the sneering villain in a bad World War II movie, jackbooted and monocled, Lichtman assumed he could casually stomp us without blowback or complaint.
It didn’t occur to Johannes Lichtman that Tom Bissell’s essay on the ULA is essentially one giant lie from start to finish—from the opening premise that all writers are outsiders inhabiting no literary world to speak of.
Such ideas are propaganda for suckers. Have Dave Eggers and the McSweeney’s Gang behaved as if there were no literary world and no Insiders? Not for one minute. Dave Eggers was assiduously networking with every well-connected literary Insider and big publishing conglomerate he could find from Day One of his operations. Any unknown writers thrown into the mix were window dressing. Eggers went after the Moody-Minot blueblood New Yorker crowd. Those were the kind of writers he most wanted to buddy-up with and highlight.
Any quick investigation shows that the networking, the accommodating to Money and Power, has never ceased. Outsiders indeed!
Yet, as part of the game, Eggers continues to pretend that aside from the connections to Google Microsoft Amazon, to assorted and various big investment types, he’s actually an “indie” kind of guy. With the clueless, including Johannes Lichtman apparently, Eggers gets away with it. A variation of the Big Lie. Nobody questions the scamming, nor desires to question it. Take your meds. Don’t worry. Be happy. The state of the American literary world today.
(Be sure to buy the fearless satirical novel, The McSweeneys Gang, available via Nook or Kindle.)