LAST YEAR Dave Eggers released his nonironic, nonpomo A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius to much acclaim— a whole lot of acclaim, really, as acclaim goes. Here's an example: The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani described AHWOSG as "the debut of a talented—yes, staggeringly talented new writer."
Elliott Bay Book Company Friday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Now the former Might magazine smarty-pants is out promoting the paperback version of his best-selling book, which comes with a new 48-page appendix entitled "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making." He's doing a reading this Friday at Elliott Bay Books at 7:30 p.m., and he gave Seattle Weekly an e-mail interview from the road. (We sent him the questions; he sent back some answers. With Eggers, that's how it works.)
He sort of answered the questions, if you think about it. But then again, he sort of didn't. Not at all, really. (Which he apologized for, quite nicely.) Is that funny? Maybe. Yes. Sure. Look, a stapler!
Seattle Weekly: First things first: Is there anything we should be prepared for at the Elliott Bay reading on Friday? Go-go dancers? Haircuts? Children's poetry?
DE: Haircuts will start 45 minutes before the reading. After the reading, we will all go to the home of someone chosen at random from the audience. There we will look at his or her family photos and note the physical similarities between the relatives. Someone will play spoons, either there or at the reading. If there is cake we will eat it.
Seattle Weekly: One of my favorite additions in the paperback involves a reading you did together with your brother Toph in Austin—"for fun"—in which he deconstructs and/or parodies, assembly-line-style, the inscriptions you were writing in people's books. You've said that your relationship with Toph has never been purely as a brother, that it's always been a sort of parent-brother hybrid. Now that AHWOSG is nearly behind you, do you expect your relationship to change any?
DE: Our relationship only changes when we fight over girlfriends. When that happens, he's a total bastard.
Seattle Weekly: AHWOSG was, of course, phenomenally well-received last year, but that predictably created a good deal of hype, as well as some sniping preoccupation with that hype from some quarters (including numerous parodies, good-spirited and otherwise, from Suck, Modern Humorist, et al.). Has that made touring for the paperback any less fun than promoting the hardback was?
DE: I want to tell you a story. A story about a young girl named Priscilla, who grew up to be a GI named Roger. Roger fought hard for his country and never once complained about the cold, the rain, the long hours and poor pay. And he never forgot who he was fighting for, or where he came from. That was Kansas.
Seattle Weekly: You've got another McSweeney's novel coming up soon, referred to mysteriously on the site only as an "UNTITLED NOVEL INVOLVING WATER." Any more news on that?
DE: I was supposed to be finished by now. I was almost done, but then decided that instead of being set in present day America, the book would be set in the future, underwater. I know it's the right thing for the novel—it's obviously the right decision—but it's been taking some rewriting. And a hell of a lot of research. Oh god, the research!
Seattle Weekly: Has any more happened with making a movie based on AHWOSG, especially re: who might be working on it? (I guess I should confess that I've had my hopes up for Julian Schnabel, who you've mentioned before as a possible director.)
DE: Mr. Schnabel dropped out when the studio insisted that Justin Timberlake play either myself or Toph, or both. I respect Schnabel's decision and we remain friendly, but I am certain that Timberlake should play a major role in the film.
Seattle Weekly: The reading at Elliott Bay will benefit the Hutch School, a school whose students are cancer patients or children of cancer patients at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. The reasons for this particular benefit should be superficially obvious to anyone who's read AHWOSG. But you've made a deliberate point of sharing much of your book proceeds with causes both silly and altruistic, supporting all sorts of charities and artists. In the paperback's appendix, you expand on some of the rationale behind this notion. But how and when did you get this idea exactly? Not to be glib but, as you know, this is not normal.
DE: I want to tell you another story, this one about a lovely young girl who grew up to be Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. I want to tell you this story but I will not.
Seattle Weekly: Is there any chance you'd give us a drawing of a stapler?
DE: Here is a stapler with his friends.