20 April 2008

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius -Dave Eggers


What is the goal of writing? An interesting question that most writers, be they journalist, novelist, poet or biographer must often ask themselves. At it's most simplest, the goal of writing is to tell a story, to convey a message.

I ask this question here, as it would be a question I would pose to Dave Eggers if I were to ever meet him. What was the goal of writing this book, especially considering it was his first book. Was it an outlet to purge his emotions, as a result of his parents deaths? Or was it to write a book that people would read, and thus through which he could become an established writer? Well, it true Eggersian fashion, I actually did get a chance to discuss this with him. Below is the transcript of our discussion:

RD: Hi Dave, so great that you could make it. Welcome.
DE: Well anything for a fan.
RD: Whoa, who said I was a fan?
DE: Well, I only imagine you must be, considering my book was a work of genius, you know?
RD: So says you.
DE: Not only that, the work was staggering.
RD: Ok, that I give you. It was staggering. Not sure if I would use the word genius; in fact I think Mensa has a trademark on that or something....
DE: Ya, well, what do they know. I mean, if you score over 1500 on your SATs or some shit like that you can be part of their club. Who uses the SATs to measure anyone's worth.
RD: Actually Dave, most colleges across America do. Are you saying that the entire post secondary machination in America is wrong in their evaluation of students?
DE: Quite frankly, yes.
RD: Wait, what did Toph score on his SATs?
DE: That is a matter not up for discussion, dickhead. I thought we were talking about my work of genius.
RD: Right, we wouldn't want to digress from the topic at hand. After all, your book does have a point doesn't it?
DE: Yes, in fact it has many points. Didn't you read my 50 page acknowledgment? It's all laid out there in black and white print.
RD: Actually, I quite liked that section. Well I did for the first 20 pages, but then kind of got tired of it to be honest. Although, I will grant you that the boxes of information were a nice touch. Did you draw those, or did you get some fancy graphic artists from some San Fransisco Art Institute to draw those for you?
DE: Oh, most definitely they were not drawn by me. I can't handle drawing boxes so well. I can hardly keep my house clean to the standards of child welfare. I mean, a Cambodian prison is better decorated then the places Toph and I lived in.
RD: Yes, Toph did seem like the only sane person in your book. The only one who could keep it together, so to speak. Was that intentional, or was it really how things happened?
DE: Like I said in the introduction, it's either how it happened, how I remembered it happening, or I thought it would sounds well 10 years later when I finished the book. Take your pick.
RD: I would like to think there is a little from column A and a little from columns B and C, actually.
DE: Yes, well, I'm trying to sell a book here. Life is never is exciting or dull as we make it out to be. Actually, I much prefer living life through a series of stories that I set out for myself.
RD: Is that healthy?
DE: Who cares. Now that I'm a big well known writer, I have medical care. It wasn't like before.
RD: Yes, that must be tough. Maybe you should have moved to Canada.
DE: I thought about that, but there was too much paper work involved.
RD: True enough, nobody likes paperwork.
DE: Well, listen, it's been real (or rather unreal), but I have to go. I have an interview with somebody real.
RD: You mean like that 50 page section where you "interviewed" for Real World.
DE: No actually, this one is to be a guest on Big Brother. Much more tangible.
RD: Right. Well, listen, I can't say it's been real, but it has certainly been entertaining.
DE: Kudos to that.

He is always feeling terrible, when the innocent, benign questions of unsuspecting strangers yield the bizarre answer he must provide. Like someone asking about the weather and being told of nuclear winter. But it does have its advantages. In this case, BROTHERs got a free haircut.


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Anonymous said...

Ha ha! Very nice. And by the way...."At ITS most simplest..."

Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view