Eggers, Dave 1971(?)-

views updated

EGGERS, Dave 1971(?)-

PERSONAL: Born c. 1971; married Vendela Vida (an author and magazine editor), 2003.

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o McSweeney's, 826NYC, 372 Fifth Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11215; 826 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110

CAREER: Writer. Might magazine, founder and editor, beginning 1997. Also editor at Esquire and Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Consultant for ESPN. Has appeared on various radio and television shows, including This American Life, for National Public Radio (NPR), and The Real World, for Music Television (MTV).


(And editor, with others) For the Love of Cheese: The Editors of Might Magazine, Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 1996.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (memoir), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

You Shall Know Our Velocity (novel), self-published, 2002.

(Editor, with Michael Cart) The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002, Mariner Books, 2002.

(Editor, with Zadie Smith) The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003, Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

(Editor) The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004, Mariner Books, 2004.

(Editor, with others) Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's Humor Category, Knopf, 2004.

Sacrament! (play; adapted from You Shall Know Our Velocity,) produced at the Campo Santo Company, San Francisco, CA, 2004.

How We Are Hungry (short stories), McSweeney's, 2004.

Contributor to numerous periodicals.

ADAPTATIONS: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is being adapted as a screenplay by Nick Hornby and D. V. DeVincentis.

SIDELIGHTS: Founder in 1994 and former editor of Might magazine, writer Dave Eggers edits Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, a quarterly journal and Web site in existence since 1998. Jeff Daniel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch likened Eggers to avantgarde pop musicians Radiohead and the movie-making Coen brothers, placing him among the "rare breed that has managed to marry commercial and critical success." Daniel called Eggers a "self-starter and self-promoter," praising him for his work ethic and writing talent. Daniel, too, noted that McSweeney's continues to be commended for promoting clever writing. Christopher Lydon, interviewer for WBUR Boston, commented that McSweeney's is a "quirky" Monty Python-style publication as well as a "postmodern examination of everything." Only a few years prior to the development and launch of Might, Eggers and his three siblings faced the grim reality of having seen both their parents die within weeks of each other. After two of Eggers' siblings moved to California, he decided to take on the task of raising his eight-year-old brother, Christopher, or Toph, on his own. That experience, as well as many others, prompted Eggers to write A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Daniel Handler, in Voice Literary Supplement, stated that "whether [Eggers is] discussing early Might meetings or parent-teacher conferences, he invariably finds a perfect tone and zeroes in on the triple paradox of . . . slacker days: you want to do something, preferably the right thing, but are paralyzed by self-awareness; despite self-awareness you do something anyway." Handler commented that Eggers "may end up becoming something he richly deserves and probably does not aspire to be: the voice of a generation." Mark Horowitz, reviewing A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius for New York, praised Eggers' honest voice, noting that he "lays everything out in exquisite, excruciating detail." Horowitz called the book "a heart-wrenching yet often very funny memoir."

Sara Mosle, in the New York Times Book Review, commented on the humor in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, calling the work "a book of finite jest, which is why it succeeds so brilliantly." Mosle commented that the book "goes a surprisingly long way toward delivering on its self-satirizing, hyperbolic title," and that it "is a profoundly moving, occasionally angry and often hilarious account of those odd and silly things, usually done in the name of Toph." Elise Harris described in Nation how "conviction and doubt, depth and humor, are placed side by side," and that "each is a style, and each is true and false at once." According to Harris, Eggers "won't let the reader make a choice between them—we don't know where he really falls. The result is exhausting and frustrating, but trustworthy." James Poniewozik, in Time, stated that in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius "literary gamesmanship and self-consciousness are trained on life's most unendurable experience, used to examine memory too scorching to stare at, as one views an eclipse by projecting sunlight onto paper through a pinhole." Grace Fill, a reviewer in Booklist, was another reviewer who commented on Eggers' use of humor, stating that his "piercingly observant style allows hilarity to lead the way in a very personal and revealing recounting of the loss of his parents." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly said that "literary self-consciousness and technical invention mix unexpectedly in this engaging memoir." Eric Bryant, a reviewer in Library Journal, "highly recommended" the book, calling the work "a surprisingly moving tale of family bonding and resilience."

Eggers' first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, concerns two young men on a week-long trip around the world with the goal of giving away an unexpected windfall of cash one of them received. Kyle Minor of the Antioch Review pointed out the plot is simply a way for Eggers to conduct a philosophical character analysis of the duo as they deal with feelings of guilt and attempt to come to grips with a friend's death. Minor felt the Eggers produced a "convincing book-length dialogue between them that works on multiple levels," remarking that, it is a "minor work, but it is a satisfying and meritorious effort." Benjamin Markovitz noted in the New Statesman that Eggers draws the title for his novel from "a lengthy anecdote about a harmless, foolish, and ambitious South American tribe who believed they could jump their way to heaven. Its relation to the story is clear, and explains why their failure and nobility appealed to Eggers." Markovits also commented that Eggers' writing is more "grown up in style" and the plot tighter than in his memoir, yet he still exhibits some of the irreverence shown in his first book. "He deserves his success," commented Markovitz. "He writes well and he practises what he preaches: he teaches literacy at his own foundation in San Francisco, while McSweeney's, the independent literary magazine and press that he founded, is now the place publishers look for new talent."



Antioch Review, spring, 2003, Kyle Minor, review of You Shall Know Our Velocity, p. 373.

Booklist, January 1, 2000, Grace Fill, review of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, p. 860.

Entertainment Weekly, March 3, 2000, Clarissa Cruz, "His So-Called Life: Author du jour Dave Eggers' Crazy Existence Gets Even Crazier," p. 67.

Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Eric Bryant, review of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, p. 77.

Nation, March 20, 2000, Elise Harris, "Infinite Jest," p. 45.

New Statesman, February 24, 2003, Benjamin Markovitz, review of You Shall Know Your Velocity, p. 53.

New York, January 31, 2000, Mark Horowitz, "Laughing through His Tearjerker," pp. 30-33.

New York Times Book Review, February 20, 2000, Sara Mosle, "My Brother's Keeper," p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, December 13, 1999, review of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, p. 72.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 17, 2003, Jeff Daniel, "Quirky Dave Eggers Comes to Town to Promote His New Book," p. 5.

Time, February 7, 2000, James Poniewozik, "Dave Eggers' Mystery Box: With a Curious Journal and an Ambitious New Memoir of Orphanhood, This Young Editor and Writer Opens a Package of Literary Surprises," p. 72.

U.S. News & World Report, February 7, 2000, Linda Kulman, "He's Ingenious and He Knows It," p. 62.

Voice Literary Supplement, February-March, 2000, Daniel Handler, "Reality Writes," p. 107.


Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency, (August 14, 2004).

WBUR Boston Web site, (February 22, 2000), Christopher Lydon, "Dave Eggers, Novelist and Editor of McSweeney's."*