Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Tom Bissell Master Class of Propaganda

You could teach a course on the slants and distortions, the misrepresentations and falsehoods, the sheer dishonesty, of his essay about the ULA.

Part of the class would be analyzing the gullibility of readers. Why do they believe it? Why do they refuse to allow into their brains evidence to the contrary?

It’s because, with the established hierarchical literary scene, we’ve entered an area of faith. Those like Johannes Lichtman who’ve paid for high-priced degrees have paid for their own indoctrination. They’ve invested heavily, financially and emotionally, in the status quo system, and the products and standards of same. Their style of writing is better because it is. It has to be.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Do You Spell "Phony"?

Interesting interview Dave Eggers did with The Guardian.

I like this quote from him: "The financial system, the banks, the venture capitalists-- these players don't have use for a guy like Alan."

But they do for Dave Eggers! He 's buddied up with such people intensively-- has made certain to access "the financial system" to keep the many parts of his empire operating.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quiz Question

Johannes Lichtman says he was paid $25 for his hit piece on the Underground Literary Alliance.

How much did the Eggman pay Tom Bissell for his hit piece on us?

A.) $25.
B.) $5.
C.) $2.50.
D.) Bissell paid Eggers $25 for the honor of writing it.

Get your guesses in now.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Brainwashed

One of the complaints from one of the reviewers I took to task is that the ULA portrayed its antagonists as blindly conformist sheep. Yet what else do you call it when writers like Tom Bissell and Maria Bustillos chain themselves to a dead art that nobody wants?

They cling to their affirmation that they “write well,” which distinguishes them from the DIY bottom feeders of the ULA, who do not in their estimation “write well.” “In the end, you have to write well,” Tom Bissell smugly tells us.

But what does that mean? Does it mean connecting with readers other than the indoctrinated? No! Of course not.

Tom Bissell has a certain touchy-feely glibness, and knows how to construct an artful takedown by being thoroughly dishonest, but the truth is that this appointed expert of letters, this “great” writer (per fellow apparatchik Hillary Frey) doesn’t write well. His writing, like all literary writing, has scant originality, little energy, and no pace. Most of Bissell’s essays in his recent book are unreadable. The ULA essay may indeed be the best of the lot. It’s a concoction of distortions from top to bottom.

Think I’m wrong? Listen to Tom Bissell interviewed by Ed Champion at “The Bat Segundo Show.” Dull speaking to dullest:

The interview is agonizingly slow—just like a “literary” prose tome. The conversation proceeds like the progress of a pet turtle across a tabletop, filled with significant pauses of weighty self-importance as the two struggle audibly to put together credible thoughts. Hear how difficult they have it. “What do I say now?”  they seem to be thinking. It’s terrible radio. A sports radio host like J.T. the Brick would’ve yelled “Time!” after a minute.

Listen to the two, Ed and Tom, with their dawdled pronouncements, and realize they’re intellectually stunted. The talk is confined within narrow lines—though it includes, against the Underground Literary Alliance, a profusion of falsehoods and slurs.

We see this in Bissell’s pre-election Yahoo News! articles also: Bissell’s indoctrinated stereotypes. The only way he’s capable of seeing the world: through the narrow restrictions of acceptable thought already laid down for him.

This includes Tom Bissell’s notions about writing, which he brought to his look at a writing scene he was congenitally unable to understand. Or unwilling to understand.

Bissell appears effective with his takedowns because there’s no opposition present. He’s like a boxer punching a padded bag, with no one hitting back. It’s been the way of the literary world; how it’s maintained itself. The only thing the literary establishment has going for it is its monopoly on print media access. Reviewers and critics are as indoctrinated as the writers. It’s all the same crowd. A rigged game. Maybe it’s always been a rigged game, so that a Dwight MacDonald could beat up a great novelist like James Gould Cozzens because Cozzens wasn’t able to fight back. One side only is retained and presented. The result is a warped truth, as warped as what Bissell did to the Underground Literary Alliance. But truth is the least of the established literary world’s concern.

If you make it that far in the Ed and Tom interview—if you can endure the dullness—note when the two slogs speculate about the fate of the ULA. What happened to those guys? They don’t have an idea.

Social context? The severe recession raging for half of America outside the doors of their studio? Reality? Nowhere to be found.

A more perfect example of bubble writers removed from their own place and time couldn’t be given. Their irrelevance is palpable. It hovers like a rancid smell over the stagnant interview.

Oh well. That’s the literary world now.


The previous post here, about someone obsessing over another blog of mine, has been taken down. The info there is being kept "in house."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Hysteria of Franzen and Eggers

The established literary scene is so insular and weak, a handful of protests by a broke band of underground writers caused panic among some of American literature’s biggest and most powerful names. See this piece at one of my other blogs:

Like an elephant panicked by a mouse, they hysterically tried to stomp us out of existence. Strangely enough, they’re still trying.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A New Kind of Dave Eggers Contest

This blog is pleased to announce a new kind of Dave Eggers contest:


In honor of the McSweeney's Smiley Face.


Most gushy ass-eating tweet referring to Dave Eggers in the most glowing terms possible wins the contest. Contest ends when the judges can take no more insipid McSweeneyite lobotomized awestruck apple-polishing brown-nosing.


The ability to purchase the new satirical ebook novel The McSweeneys Gang by King Wenclas for 99 cents at Nook or Kindle.


One Attaboy! or Attagirl!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Culture of Lies

There will be a LOT, LOT LOT LOT LOT more to say about the decrepit state of literary journalism now that we’re finding out about the decrepit-but-relatively-healthy-compared-to-lit state of sports journalism.

Think about the two big sports stories right now.

1.) The fake Manti Te’o girlfriend story.

2.) The Lance Armstrong-as-good-guy fake story.

The same kind of thing goes on in the established literary scene, albeit on a smaller level. But take a look at it.

We have Believer Books last year republishing an essay by Tom Bissell which is essentially a fake. His research was nonexistent or shoddy. His use of sources was questionable. No—not questionable. He abused his sources, as I’ve been showing at in black and white.

Meanwhile, literary “journalists” like Garth Risk Hallberg and Maria Bustillos have raved about the fakery. Hallberg hailed Tom Bissell as a new kind of journalist. Well, he is that, I guess.

It’s not as if lit writers shouldn’t know that Tom Bissell is a dishonest writer. He was involved in questionable literary activity some years ago—yet the literary scene covered up for him and backed him.

When do we ever encounter honesty? A commitment to honesty? (Then there are other gullible writers like Johannes Lichtman of Oxford American who apparently believe in the Easter Bunny. He’s refused to read a word about the Bissell essay contrary to his prefabricated belief.)

AT THE SAME TIME as dishonest essayist Tom Bissell is on the scene (his dishonesty able to be shown in black and white), another dishonest character is on the scene. Namely, untouchable good guy Dave Eggers, whose public persona as good guy is fake. People must know this, but, um, no one wants or dares to say.

We now know that Lance Armstrong is a mean guy who tried to put out of business and destroy those who criticized him. This is the same kind of behavior engaged in by Dave Eggers and friends (see Daniel Handler) viz-a-viz the whistle blowers of the Underground Literary Alliance.

Hey, guys, isn’t this a good time to come clean? Look in the mirror and acknowledge the truth in what I’m saying.

This also should be a wake-up call to literary writers and “journalists” like Garth Risk Hallberg, Maria Bustillos, and Johannes Lichtman to stop believing in the Tom Bissell Easter Bunny and do some real investigating.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Is Dave Eggers Lit's Lance Armstrong?

There are a few parallels. Both have done many great charitable things. Both also, by all reports, behind the scenes can be quite mean.

Eggers has effectively bullied the entire literary scene. Is there a single journalist anywhere who’ll look into his personality or his operations? Most busy themselves writing abject puff pieces, dealing with the surface face only. But that’s not what real journalism is about—which should be, getting the real story.

The real story is what you never get from literature today. It’s all fake.

(Read the great e-novels Crime City USA and The McSweeneys Gang, fast-paced new fiction done in a non-“literary” pop style.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Your Choice



The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus. $25.95.
Pseudo-intellectual, slow, literary. Why did you waste the time? Not entertaining. Reading as duty. Unexciting. Domesticated domestic byplay. Ultimately, boring.


The McSweeneys Gang by King Wenclas. 99 cents.
Fun, fast-moving, satirical. Occasionally over-the-top. An intelligent critique of the lit-world today.


Thursday, January 10, 2013


Dave Eggers is many things. Above all, he’s a master propagandist—so subtle and astute that a Goebbels would be envious. The bad side of the man—there is a bad side—is well hidden. Instead: constant photos of “Der Fuehrer”  with dogs and children. Blindly obedient McSweeneyites wait to scream whatever is the McSweeney’s version of “Seig Heil!”

I’m exaggerating, but not much.

(Tom Bissell likewise is a master propagandist—examine some of his Yahoo News pieces—which is why he was an apt choice as anti-ULA hatchet man.)

Examine the 826 projects across the country, which are nothing so much as part of a massive p.r. campaign designed to portray Eggers and his gang in the best possible light. Oh yeah, good is done. At the same time, every step of the programs are accompanied by blaring announcements. No one is allowed to miss the fact that the Dave is doing widespread good. (His novels about Third World types were similarly designed to present Eggers in a positive and liberal light.)

Nonstop positive publicity, across the country. Endless good will developed with journalists and reporters who love these kind of stories. Best of all, with others paying for it! The fundraising aspect is the true genius, because it allows Eggers to credibly network with the most powerful Big Money people in the country, establishing relationships with high-ups at places like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft—the controllers of contemporary dissemination of media. This can only have, down the road, for the McSweeney’s empire, positive effects.