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Ageing White Guy Takes Stock of His Life …

J. Robert Lennon: Dave Eggers, 24 January 2013

A Hologram for the King 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £18.99, February 2013, 978 0 241 14585 2
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... It’s not hard to describe the editorial career of Dave Eggers: he came to prominence in the late 1990s as founder of the literary magazine McSweeney’s, which is still publishing after 15 years and more than 40 issues. The influence of McSweeney’s on contemporary fiction can’t be overestimated. Its early aesthetic of mild experimentation, monochrome typographic clutter and wilful, crypto-absurdist obscurity launched dozens of careers and spawned many imitators ...


Christopher Tayler: Dave Eggers, 3 April 2003

You Shall Know Our Velocity 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 350 pp., £16.99, February 2003, 0 241 14228 8
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... I am owed,’ says Dave Eggers – or ‘Dave Eggers’ – in his much admired A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Owed, that is, the right to publish a memoir in his mid-twenties, because losing both parents to cancer and bringing up your younger brother obviously cuts you quite a bit of slack ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The ‘Onion’, 12 December 2002

... unreliable, Internet disservice provider to the unwary). The annual is introduced by Dave Eggers. At least, something he wrote in ‘St Petersburg, Russia, June 2002’ appears under the heading ‘Introduction’ at the front of the book; but then this is Dave Eggers, so it isn’t by any means a ...

This Is Not That Place

Thomas Jones: David Eggers escapes from Sudan, 21 June 2007

What Is the What 
by Dave Eggers.
Hamish Hamilton, 475 pp., £18.99, June 2007, 978 0 241 14257 8
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... his own. What Is the What is both the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng and a novel by Dave Eggers; a collaboration between the two men, as well as between memory and imagination. The book itself makes no attempt to explain how such a hybrid came into being. Readers are twice reassured in small type that ‘all proceeds . . . will go to the ...


Ian Sansom: Dave Eggers, 16 November 2000

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 
by Dave Eggers.
Picador, 415 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 0 330 48454 0
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... The title of Dave Eggers’s book is fair warning: it prepares the reader to put on a happy face. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius comes emulsioned with the kind of compliments and absurd little pronunciamentos that stretch credulity. ‘The force and energy of this book could power a train,’ apparently ...

Katrina Time

Greg Grandin: Dave Eggers in New Orleans, 6 January 2011

by Dave Eggers.
Penguin, 368 pp., £8.99, 0 14 104681 3
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... and Iraq, yet in this spare, harrowing account of one family’s experience of Katrina Time, Dave Eggers does more than just capture the moment when America’s wars came home. Over the last few years, he has shed the notice-me virtuosity of his early writing, and dedicated much of his time to working with the disenfranchised, incarcerated and ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... set in a fictional North London suburb and in New York, bears the impress of American writers like Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace, clever, nervy exhibitionists, IQs-with-i-Books, guys who, as Smith has put it, ‘know things’, writers with a gift for speedy cultural analysis, whose prose is choppy with interruption. The Autograph Man may indeed be ...


James Francken: Ian Sansom, 20 May 2004

Ring Road: There’s No Place like Home 
by Ian Sansom.
Fourth Estate, 388 pp., £12.99, April 2004, 0 00 715653 7
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... suggestion that this would be ‘no bad thing’. Some of these embellishments are borrowed from Dave Eggers: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius features jaunty chapter summaries, a haywire list of rules and suggestions for enjoyment, a musical score to indicate the rising cadence of a conversation, and the real phone numbers of a few of ...


Michael Wood: Chinese Whispers, 8 August 2013

edited by Adam Thirlwell.
Portobello, 380 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 1 84627 537 1
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... Even what seem to be cases of extreme translation have a way of coming home, or not leaving home. Dave Eggers ends his version of Kafka’s story ‘The Animal in the Synagogue’ with the words: ‘Look away, look away, look away.’ John Wray and Nathan Englander in English and Alejandro Zambra in Spanish all have a phrase about the impossibility of ...

Father of the Light Bulb

J. Robert Lennon: Kurt Vonnegut, 22 February 2018

Kurt Vonnegut: Complete Stories 
edited by Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield.
Seven Stories, 911 pp., £29.99, November 2017, 978 1 60980 808 2
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... myth that rape is corrective, a cure.’ In a bewilderingly slight foreword to this collection, Dave Eggers contextualises Vonnegut’s short work like this: The moral story is gone. The fable is gone. They cannot be found in contemporary literature. Not even in children’s literature. Writers do not feel inclined to tell their fellow human beings how ...

I am the decider

Hal Foster: Agamben, Derrida and Santner, 17 March 2011

The Beast and the Sovereign. Vol. I 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoffrey Bennington.
Chicago, 349 pp., £24, November 2009, 978 0 226 14428 3
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... his wolf costume and the Wild Things appear. (In the movie-and-novel version by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, the voyage to the land of the big shaggy beasts also comes just after Max falls out of his broken home.) So perhaps it is a question less of where the wild things are – we have names for those spaces, which we project inward or outward as the ...

In Transit

Geoff Dyer: Garry Winogrand, 20 June 2013

... of research I was also struck by the way that Winogrand himself looked, for a while, rather like Dave Eggers.) The fact that this picture is not in the current catalogue – it can be seen in The Uneasy Streets of Garry Winogrand – makes one conscious of the opportunity cost of including so many other well-known ones: the absence of photographs ...


Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides, 6 October 2011

The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... Eugenides’s contemporary Jonathan Franzen and a younger cohort that includes Zadie Smith and Dave Eggers – have come to believe that too much was lost – in moral and emotional engagement, in readership – when realism was thrown over. As Franzen wrote in the New Yorker, ‘in college, I’d admired Derrida and the Marxist and feminist ...

Edited by Somerset Maugham

Wyatt Mason: Bedtime stories for adults, 17 March 2005

Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes 
by J. Robert Lennon.
Granta, 213 pp., £10, March 2005, 1 86207 740 1
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... and restraint uncharacteristic of writers of his generation. Whereas his immediate contemporaries Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead and Mark Danielewski all thrive on – and have in part made themselves known for – work that brims with clever digression, Lennon includes only what advances his plots and broadens our sense of his characters. In an era where ...


James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... pseudo-retro design is reminiscent of McSweeney’s, the literary magazine and website edited by Dave Eggers, which makes the droll pretence of providing barber-shop reading for educated gentlemen. There are other similarities. Like Eggers (whose memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was puffed by ...

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