Ageing White Guy Takes Stock of His Life …

J. Robert Lennon

  • A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
    Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp, £18.99, February 2013, ISBN 978 0 241 14585 2

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. Guest editors undertook wacky, Oulipian conceptual projects. One issue was accompanied by a soundtrack from the indie-pop duo They Might Be Giants; another consisted of a cardboard box full of pamphlets. An always packed reading series in Brooklyn – where the magazine was then based – strengthened the impression that McSweeney’s represented a shift in literary culture. It was a movement as much as a magazine, and it was, above all, fun to be part of (I had stories published in some of its early numbers). Soon Eggers launched McSweeney’s Books, which has matured into a solid independent publisher, and today numerous journals, imprints, websites and charitable organisations live under the McSweeney’s umbrella. In short, Eggers the editor, publisher and philanthropist is everywhere.

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