Wednesday, November 28, 2007

TRH Event - Dave Eggers

The weather outside my window at work turned ominous in the afternoon. First there was whirling snow. Then there was strange looking rain. Then so much wind that you could see whitecaps on top of the puddles on the buildings. Finally, there was sun. Bright sun reflecting in the windows in the condos across the way. Fascinating.

It all seemed quite fitting to head off to St Barnabas Anglican Church to see Dave Eggers in all his McDreamy hair, fidgety hands, and soft-spoken intelligence. The church filled up quickly and so I was especially glad to have the rock star treatment from my friend Randy, who was kind enough to bring me along as his guest. We had good seats but the church pew was kind of hard on the old tragic hip.

It's been years since I've seen Dave Eggers, way back around the time when McSweeney's was all the rage and I was working at a now defunct Canadian magazine doing the worst imaginable job: customer service circulation. Numbers so do not befit this girl. And it explains why I hate the phone so much, still to this day. The event I saw was at the Horseshoe, and Eggers was accompanied by Neal Pollack. They did a really funny bit about superheroes and he drew many pictures on an overhead projector about some kayaking trip. Then, he was incredibly patient as people asked some really dumb questions about his first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Annnywaaay. When Eggers came up on stage this time, he seemed so unassuming with his shirt hanging out of his grey cable knit sweater all collegiate and kind of preppy. But he was also almost stumbling over himself in a nervous way (goodness do his hands fly when he's talking), and kind of sweetly funny, starting off by teasing the TINARS guy about not knowing he wasn't supposed to use a lectern, asking if there were any parishioners in the audience and joking up some girls in the front row. Once he started talking about his new book (we were at the paperback launch), he sobered up, and told the audience about how What is the What, the biography of Valentine Achak Deng, began, carefully and with an incredible amount of detail. And once it was all over, the picture show reminiscent of something you'd experience at a local Rotary dinner (awesome), and the short videos, he answered questions, many of which were intelligent and well thought out, which is always appreciated at these kinds of things.

As much as I enjoyed the atmosphere of the church, beer would have been good too. But all in all it made me want to read What is the What, and got me thinking about oil, China, Sudan, humanitarianism, artists as activists, curly hair, local action, international action, Jane Fonda, the novel as memoir, Truman Capote, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a whole host of other random thoughts in my poor, muddled brain.


Kerry said...

No matter how cool it becomes to hate Dave Eggers, to me he never ceases to be refreshing. Thanks for the recap!

hip_ragdoll said...

Oh, I hope I'm never that cool. I don't think I could ever hate him, especially considering how much I admire his humanitarianism, and his whole artist ideals. Very refreshing, in my own humble opinion, regardless of whether or not I think McSweeney's is still the literary hotspot.

But yeah, I agree with you.

b*babbler said...

Sounds like a fantastic evening.

I do love those events that get you thinking, truly thinking.

Tim said...

I think that What is the What took some of the cool off of being an Eggers-hater.

And you've got to read the book!