MONO.KULTUR , #25, Dave Eggers
Born in 1970, Eggers grew up near Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a degree in journalism and an interest in painting. Things changed drastically, however, when both his parents died of cancer soon after college, and at 21 he assumed guardianship over his younger brother Toph. After moving to San Francisco, where he’s been based ever since, Eggers began working as a freelance graphic designer, and founded Might magazine , one of the quintessential publications documenting 90s Generation X angst and sensibility. Eggers chronicled this period in his autobiographic debut novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius , published in 2000: a ferocious, frequently hilarious monument to self-consciousness and self-doubt. Widely praised and even short-listed for the renowned Pulitzer Prize, Eggers’ memoir presaged a tidal shift in the American literary scene: Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Richard Ford, et al suddenly felt a little dusty and, well, old, to be replaced by Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, and Jonathans Franzen and Safran Foer.
Yet Eggers, unlike most of his contemporaries, has a love for words far beyond putting his own pen to paper. In 1998, he established the independent publishing house McSweeney’s , which was initially aimed at single-handedly reviving the virtually dead genre of the short story with a lovingly-made quarterly collection of stories by mostly young and unknown authors.
In the meantime, Eggers’ personal interests took a decidedly political turn, with a distinctive and refreshing attitude towards engaging in a range of hands-on projects at the grassroots level, without being dogmatic or proposing grand, sweeping solutions. In 2002, he helped found 826 Valencia , a tutoring center and – literally – pirate supply store that now has branches in cities across the country. (Each branch is fronted by a different emporium: 826 Brooklyn sells superhero supplies.) He also started the Voice of Witness , a nonprofit book series that provides a venue for the stories of disenfranchised individuals: the wrongfully convicted, Sudanese refugees or victims of Hurricane Katrina.
5 pgs, 15 × 20 cm, Softcover, 2010,
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