I recently finished Dave Eggers’ first novel, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. This book messed with my mind. He makes such a big deal in the (very elaborate, gimmicky) preface about how true the book is, that I was inclined to believe none of it. Then, at the end of the paperback edition, there’s a corrections section (“Mistakes We Knew We Were Making”) written in such a different tone that I thought “Oh, these people must all be real.”
Halfway through, I had changed my thesis to “Dave Eggers is sly; this must be all an elaborate ruse to make me believe that these events really happened (not that, for a work of literature, truth really matters).” I was beaten. I had to check the source of all the world’s knowledge: Wikipedia.
On the Dave Eggers page I learn that his sister Beth sued him after publication of the book (thus convincing me, finally, that Beth really did exist and that the novel is indeed based closely on fact), that Eggers is responsible in a way for the superhero supply store I saw so many ages ago in Brooklyn, and something else interesting.
Last Christmas I came across the book “Your Disgusting Head,” a children’s book made up of “facts” about science (why you can’t understand your cat–because he mumbles, obviously; how many tries it took before the guy who designed your ear got it right) by a “Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey.” Now, either they didn’t mention who was behind the books or I didn’t look too hard, but I assumed they were written by Daniel Handler, or maybe John Hodgman. Turns out, they’re the product of Dave Eggers and younger brother Christopher Eggers, who features prominently in AHWOSG.
It’s weird, this moment of convergence, of synchronicity. I feel now like I know Christopher (or “Toph”), though all I’ve done is read about him in a memoir thinly disguised as fiction. And I feel good because now I know this kid is okay and that he’s doing well, and that he’s just as weird as his older brother.
Update December 2007: A lot of people are finding this page via search. Can y’all comment and let me know what you’re looking for? Is this post helping you at all or just distracting from what you’re really interested in?