Tag Archives: Dave Eggers

Like Stories about Collapsing Lungs and Crocodiles?

I consider myself an optimistic pessimist. Meaning, I hope for the best, even if my thoughts don’t naturally go in that direction.

But lately, I’ve been complaining A LOT.

Sleep is a big part of keeping me on an even keel. If I am short on sleep, I act like a bad version of myself. Reading a good story also turns my mood around.

I try to read every night, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Or sometimes, I start a new book, and the story hasn’t captured my interest yet. And sometimes, I just forget to do the things that are good for me.

I have a favorite design blog, Design*Sponge. The site showcases people’s beautiful homes, but also explores art, traveling, recipes, and artists. It has also started to focus more on writing.

I ran across a post about writer Rahawa Haile yesterday. She created a site called Short Story of the Day. Her idea was to post a short story from a minority writer every day in 2015.

I enjoyed the freshness of these stories, the ability to startle. Sure there was a breakup story, but the main character also had a collapsing lung. There was another story about a girl whose mom brings home a crocodile.

These stories forced the reader to suspend belief for a moment. To live outside the realm of the every day. Reading these stories allowed me to escape myself and all my petty gripes.

Sometimes, disappearing into a world of crocodiles and collapsing lungs is just what you need.

Last night, I also attended that Dave Eggers and Marlon James book event which benefited the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. As I mentioned last week, MOI is an after school program that helps students aged 6-18 work on their homework, focusing particularly on creative writing.

Along with Eggers and James discussing their work, three students from the program read stories. The stories were written in letter format. One was addressed to an alien, one to a dragon, and one to the sun. Each was funny and charming.

Eggers and James were fantastic, but I think everyone who attended would agree the kids stole the show.

It was another reminder of the power of a good story. A good story allows you to lose yourself in the moment, to try to absorb all the joy and possibility in the weird, little world of that story.

This week’s video is “Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Nerd Alert! Come See Dave Eggers and Marlon James Talk Books in St. Paul

We are serious about our books here in the Twin Cities. For a woman who loves books as much as I do, that is good news.

Imagine my excitement when it was announced that Marlon James and Dave Eggers would be talking books in St. Paul. You can still buy tickets for the Thursday February 4th event here.

The event benefits the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, an after school program that helps students aged 6-18 work on their homework. The nonprofit focuses particularly on writing and gives kids the opportunity to publish their own books. According to an article in The Star Tribune, the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute is somewhat based on the “network of writing and tutoring programs that Eggers co-founded, called 826 National.”

Despite his work with 826 National, Eggers is a polarizing writer. Many people find him arrogant. He did, after all, write a book called, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I get that doesn’t come across as particularly humble.

I also understand the need for arrogance as a writer. You have to think your writing is better than the writing of most other people. You also need to have enough ego to survive the inevitable series of rejections.

So Eggers’ ego has never bothered me. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was the first Eggers book I read, and it remains one of my favorite books. And I mean favorite books ever.

I read it after losing my brother, and I found it funny and beautiful and devastating. To me, it was an honest book about what it is like to lose someone (or two someones in Eggers’ case) you love.

When you lose someone, you try to mourn and not become overwhelmed by sadness. You also need to go on living. You need to find the joyful and funny moments when you can. This is what I love about A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Eggers shows himself laughing and crying and f*cking his way through a completely devastating situation. It is messy and at times awkward. But so is life, and so too is death.

Eggers has also written other books I’ve loved. Two of his other equally compelling and devastating creative nonfiction books are Zeitoun and What Is the What. Zeitoun follows the Zeitoun family through Katrina, and What Is the What is the story of a young Sudanese refugee, one of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan. The Circle is one of Eggers’ fiction works, and it is basically a modern day 1984. The book is a disturbingly, realistic scenario of how technology could change our lives and not for the better.

James just received the Man Booker Prize for his historical fiction novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. The novel is set in Jamaica and depicts the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. James lives in Minneapolis and teaches at Macalester College.

I have only just started A Brief History of Seven Killings, and I haven’t read James’ other novels. But so far, I can attest that James is an incredible writer.

So when I saw the event with Eggers and James pop up on Facebook, I knew I had to go. I don’t go to nearly as many readings as I should, but when a favorite author reads, I get there.

So if you’re around the area and a fan of these authors, I suggest you get there too. And oh yeah, it’s for a good cause. Nothing better than that for a book nerd like me.

This week’s video is “People Got A Lotta Nerve” by Neko Case.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,