Uncategorized | February 17, 2004

A little more than a year ago, I was interning at a cinema cafe here in Columbia. One of my tasks was to help set up a reading with Dave Eggers. He was promoting his new book, You Shall Know Our Velocity, which is a good read if anybody is interested. We knew it would be a big event, but we hadn’t predicted the throngs of students and teenagers that would be waiting outside the door in the late autumn cold, hours before the reading, hoping to get a chair. Of course there were adults there too, but the crowd was mostly young people. Standing inside, waiting to open the doors and begin selling books, it hit me: Dave Eggers is a rock star of the literary world.

Maybe it’s the little pictures scattered throughout the text of You Shall Know Our Velocity. Maybe it’s Egger’s style or his willingness to promote new, young writers through McSweeney’s. I’m not sure what he’s got that makes him so beloved by hipster kids and people in the know, but I do know there are others like him, and I’m pretty sure there’s got to be some kind of pattern or similarity in their work I haven’t quite nailed down. Whatever the formula for their success, I’m thrilled to death that authors like Dave Eggers exist. A wise teacher once told me that the literary world needs rock star writers, and I couldn’t agree more completely. We need authors like Dave Eggers, Rick Moody, Craig Arnold, and David Sedaris to interest young people, create some hype, and keep the proverbial ball rolling. Young people feel like they can be the next Sedaris for the same reason kids keep forming bands in their parents’ garages. Literary rock stars, I salute you.