Years ago, I walked into the McSweeney's store in Brooklyn and fell instantly in love with the irreverent way the independent publisher's quarterly journal and books were juxtaposed with nonsensical ephemera. It was a crazy, wonderful thing to stumble upon in the heart of that borough.
Dave Eggers founded Might magazine before starting McSweeney's, and in 2000, he earned high praise for his award-winning autobiographical first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. His work always seems to meld humor, intelligence and goofy fun while creating a catalyst for change. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., Eggers will read from and sign his latest book, What Is the What, a fictionalized memoir of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng. Eggers worked closely with Deng to tell his story, and though parts of it are embellished and the book is classified as a novel, all of the major events that occur are true. Since the fallout over James Frey's deceptively fictionalized memoir A Million Little Pieces, people have been rather touchy about the biography/memoir designation. Eggers, however, has always been acutely aware of the inaccuracies inherent in producing a work of literature based on our ever-fallible memory, and he even included a lengthy postscript to Genius titled "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making."
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Make no mistake about this: Eggers's appearance at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street, is bound to draw a crowd. Free tickets will be passed out at 6:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-436-1070.
Mon., Feb. 18, 2008