Monday, March 04, 2002

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Seriousness II
Karl Wenclas, erstwhile figurehead of the Underground Literary Alliance, a cranky and contrarian voice in the zine, small-press, and mainstream publishing worlds, contends that the New York Post missed the real story about the Atlantic canceling the Eggers/Baum feature following the realization that Eggers' sister committed suicide last fall. Ian Spiegelman of the Post begs to differ.

I agree with what Spiegelman says in his letter of response: The real story -- sad news that it is -- is that Dave's sister is dead. And it doesn't seem to me -- if it's true that the Atlantic learned of Beth's suicide from someone in Eggers' camp -- that Dave had a hand in the nixing of the piece. It was a decision that the Atlantic's editorial staff made. Besides, Dave kept his sister's death a secret for three months. Why break that secret now to kill an article in the Atlantic? And as far as Wenclas' contention that the suicide is a media hoax engineered by Eggers? Please. That's not something you joke about.

Wenclas says that the 10,000-word spiked story is the "best look at the Eggers phenomenon that's been written." His compatriot Michael Jackman tells me that the ULA broke this story with its zine "The Killed Story" (available for the usual). "The real story, we think, was that anybody has enough power to bully others into submission and how craven today's writers are," Jackman emailed me. "As for the propriety angle, why is propriety a concern in literary criticism where it wouldn't be in journalism? These are all good, productive questions to ask, but we're being met with silence on it."

Perhaps the ULA will make the killed story available for DIY distribution. I'd certainly like to read it.

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