Tom Bissell doesn’t see himself as powerful. In himself, he’s not.
But he’s employed by some of the most powerful entities in literature. It’s not just Tom Bissell smearing the Underground Literary Alliance. It’s the highly influential and connected McSweeney’s organization. It’s ICM, one of the most powerful talent agencies in the business. Who’ll dare go up against them?
Someone at McSweeney’s had to have read and screened and approved Tom Bissell’s dishonest essay before it was included in the Believer Books collection Magic Hours. Presumably Heather Schroder, Bissell’s agent, an ICM partner, read that essay as well. They were perfectly fine with depicting a tiny band of DIY zinesters, currently inactive as a group, backed by no funds or connections whatsoever, as genocidal authoritarian Bolsheviks(!) whose quixotic campaign for a sliver of attention was liable to lead, in Bissell’s hysterically absurd words, to “lots and lots of tombstones.”(!!!)
The publication of this dishonest smear essay, backed by power, money, and influence, then allows other powerful entities, such as, oh, the New York Times(!) in reviews to pile on against that inactive band of nobodies.
An elephant panicked at the sight of a mouse.