Intellectually, Tom Bissell knows that his essay about the Underground Literary Alliance is filled with distortions and slurs (“lots and lots of tombstones”), and that it has spread malice against the ULA across the literary world. Yet he’s willing to have that Frankenstein’s monster of an essay represent him and his career. He’s willing to live with the fraud.
Tom Bissell’s friends and supporters should also know by now that the essay is false. Willfully, like stubborn children, they continue to support it.
The journalists and writers who applauded the essay, Garth Risk Hallberg, Maria Bustillos, and Johannes Lichtman among them, have been sent evidence that the essay’s narrative is false. Will they confront the slurs and misrepresentations, the distortion of truth? Or do they choose convenience over conscience?
If the writer has no conscience, who in society will?
The literary establishment has the power to close me off and shut me down. They’ve been doing it. It’s a victory for a clique but a crime against conscience. If not one writer has integrity or conscience, then the false narrative becomes accepted truth.
If it can happen in literature, it can happen anywhere.