Sunday, September 18, 2011

Signed Dave Eggers Early Work

Yesterday, I bought my first signed book, a reissued print of Sacrament, which is a revised and expanded edition of You Shall Know Our Velocity By Dave Eggers. I found it in a small bookstore in DUMBO in one of those cases under glass that they lock up.

Dave Eggers is one of the few writers who I've read everything by in real time. I feel like I sort of grew up with him. I picked up Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius in highschool when it came out. At the time, I didn't know who Dave Eggers was; no one really did. But I thought I would love a book written by someone who could come up with a title like that. And then there was the writing:

"Please look. Can you see us? Can you see us, in our little red car? Picture us from above, as if you were flying above us, in, say, a hellicopter, or on the back of a bird, as our car hurtles, low to the ground, straining on the slow upward trajectory but still at sixty, sixty-five, around the relentless, sometimes ridiculous bends of Highway 1. Look at us goddammit, the two of us slingshotted from the back side of the moon, greedily cartwheeling toward everything we are owed. Every day we are collection on what's coming to us, each day we're being paid back for what is owed, what we deserve, with interest, with some extra motherfucking consideration-we are owed, godammit-and so we are expecting everything, everything." p.47 HBWSG 

College was a dark period for pleasure reading, but after I emerged relatively unscathed, I picked up What Is The What and read it, after my room mate and I would get home from Max Fish, in my small, windowless Lower East Side apartment. When I read it, I wondered what had become of the author who wrote so beautifully and comically about what it means to be unmoored. The form of his work had changed. Reacting to his many critics maybe?

I read You Shall Know Our Velocity, later, on my couch in my first home. I felt cheated at Zetouin, as Eggers seemed to fully have "matured" into a style that is not his own. It makes YSKOV feel like something precious. The last of a writer that is no more.  Maybe it's like a sibling a few years older then you. Where the disparity in ages, mean you only sync up at certain key points in your life, the rest of the time you're going through different stages at different times and can't understand one another.

"At Heathrow we made straight for the information desk. A middle-aged woman, with curly iron-colored hair and the happy tired face of a third grade teacher in her last year, asked if she could help us and we said she could. We needed, we said, to know if there were any flights leaving within the next two hours to countries in Eastern Europe where no visa was required for entry."

I'm still hopeful that the next book he writes will be more like his first and less like his last.

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