My infatuation with Dave Eggers

Second Boomy piece...and I'm saving the best for last, so check back tomorrow.

My infatuation with…

Dave Eggers

I first encountered Dave Eggers at the tender age of sixteen. I was at a Model United Nations conference and a girl who was staying in the same house as me had brought along a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It was a busy week. There was only time to be ravished by the arrogant, playful, class-clown seduction in the preface.

The book is a memoir about how both the writer’s parents died, about how he was left to take care of his little brother and how inadequate he was at this. It sounds like a sob story. It is, from time to time. It is also thoroughly funny, self-referential, and, as the title says, genius.

I borrowed the book from the first person I met who had it. And devoured it – not literally – but thoroughly relishing this discovery, this exploration of a book unlike any I had ever read before. It was playful, pretentious but self-deprecating, about serious things but containing passages about how, in a certain house, you could glide almost all the way from one end to the next.

Soon after,You shall know our velocity, Eggers’ first novel (the first book was a memoir) came out. I waited until it came out in paperback – a sign, perhaps, that I was still a bit cautious- but when it did I bought it right away. I had it gift-wrapped to force me to save it for the summer break, and as soon as we were in the car I impatiently tore the wrapping off and started reading. We drove through almost all of Germany, I think, but I remember little of it. I only remember Senegal, Morocco, Latvia; the countries that the characters in Egger’s book visited.

I now had a definite crush.

I fuelled it as well as I could. I read short story collections edited by him, checked www.mcsweeneys.net every day. I wrote a literature paper about velocity, even wrote the first draft of a novel that can only be described as a lame and failed knock-off, and eagerly awaited a new book.

The cruel, cruel man let me wait two years. Finally, then, his collection of short stories How we are Hungry came out. Wonderful stories, leaving me breathless, moved but unsatisfied, like eating crackers when what you really want is a steak. They were well written, familiar in how sharply characters were delineated, sentences put together, emotions sketched, but still a bit too much like an aside, tossed of crumbs to beggars like me, delicious ones, but just crumbs nonetheless

While in Los Angeles, I could have gone to 826LA, one of the three non-profit writing/tutoring centres Eggers (yes, he’s a philanthropist too) set up, but I never did. Daydreams should be kept at a safe enough distance.

And yet, recently I succumbed again. In the penguin shorts collection, short short stories by Dave Eggers there are piece of prose only two pages long, sometimes three, but I take what I can get. A pause in between stories stretches the enjoyment a bit longer.

Now I’m pining away. Waiting for the next small offering. Anything. And hopefully soon.

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