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Dave Eggers Loves Books

Submitted by on Thursday, 4 March 2010

BookPeople is one of Austin’s gems: one of the largest, most beloved independent bookstores in America. Floors and floors of books, many lovingly and conscientiously reviewed by staff, bazillions of magazines, store sections sporting interesting categories of books, trinkets for creativity and children, T-shirts and bookmarks that say “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read,” and booksbooksbooks everywhere. They adore local authors (they carry Dirty Little Secrets and years ago I did a reading with Selling with Integrity), and are an important stop along the book tour circuit for any author seriously intent on selling books (the Clinton’s were both here doing readings for their autobiographies, for example).

Tonight, I was absolutely blessed to hear Dave Eggers (author of many novels, short stories, screenplays such as the movie Away we Go, magazines, and newspapers) doing a reading on his newest book Zeitoun, and his two writer buddies Annie Lagang and Bill Cotter. And were they great.

Dave is a quirky, adorable, fun guy who continually wrings his hands as the one liners and non-sequiters jump outta his mouth. His brain seems to buzz on a million cylinders as he spews fun, brilliance, interesting thoughts, and manic juxtapositions. And all the while, he creates love and heat all around him. In just a 90 minutes, I heard Annie and Bill give readings of their amazing, delicious books, as well as learning about a group Dave started called ‘826’ that is a storefront of volunteers who help youngsters in schools with their reading and writing (and the local equivalent right here in Austin called The Austin BAT Cave); as well as hearing about how antieaters walk on their wrists, mullets, Libertyville and Guerny (is that how it’s spelled?) Illinois, Maurice Sendak, fuzzy notebooks, Heavy Metal and Smashing Pumpkins, the staffing of Dave’s magazine McSweeny’s and how they court new authors to give them a voice,  Dave’s new love of illustrating mamals with funny sayings, and why Dave doesn’t use the internet – he gets addicted to YouTube and forgets to write, and actually loves paying for his news to make sure newspapers stay in print and journalists get paid to be the 4th Estate. It was dizzying and exhilarating.

As a result of Dave’s intimate interplay with the large, young audience (I would have paid to see him as a stand-up comic) we discovered author ZZ Packer in the audience, a woman who’s lover doesn’t want her to write, another woman who wanted Dave to keep writing his newspaper ‘Panorama.’ Dave even offers relationship advice (“Hey. Let’s call your lover. I’ll talk to her. Be first in line and we’ll do it.”) and career wisdom to anyone who asks. Dave told one young aspiring author not worry about writing yet, and instead go live a life to want to write about. After 90 minutes I was breathless.

I walked away believing the world is a better place because Dave Eggers loves books, will do whatever he can to inspire young folks to find their voice, and help make it possible for them to be published. Dave brings light and magic to books and movies and magazines. He’s an inspiration to anyone who has ever had a dream and helps create a world where people are paid to bring the spoken word, ideas, and possibilities, to light.

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