My first ever published review was of “A Heart-breaking Work of Staggering Genius”, and interviewing Eggers was ever-so-slightly staggering in itself. He seems to be that rare and unfakeable thing, a genuinely decent individual. The full interview is here. In addition, we talked about McSweeney’s: I asked if he felt there is, or was, a McSweeney’s aesthetic…
DE: “I would not define it; I would strain and beg that it not be defined. Very early on it definitely had an aesthetic: we were seeking articles that couldn’t find a home anywhere else, so it had a very fringe aesthetic. Also we preferred experimental stories which didn’t have to end or have a middle or even start. It was about being non-mainstream in whatever way we could, but that changed. Maybe the first six were experimental in different way; after that we got really solid submissions so to buck against what we did before we said let’s start running traditional stories – not just to be contrarian – we should be a home for any good writing. It’s evolved a lot – we have a loose hand on the throttle. Never give us enough credit to say no. It’s not like Oulipo, it’s not dogma. If we got 500 pages of epic verse from Norway and it was great we’d build an issue around that – it’s having an elastic enough feel. Anything that interests us can fit in. We want be surprised every issue. Surprise and delight in every issue is our only mandate – holy shit that really an achievement” (At this point McShandy and Eggers talked about They Might Be Giants, and even sang a bit of Bangs, expressing a preference for the version on the CD of McSweeney’s #6 to the version on the album “Mink Car”)
On reviewing: “I haven’t read a review in ten years, I avoid them like the plague. But that’s because I’m a book reviewer myself. I think the conversation’s between the reviewer and the reader, the author’s just eavesdropping.”
On the American Future: “I’m determined to look forward. If my friends the Zeitouns are better then I feel good. If Obama’s in office I feel good. But we’re still discriminating against Islam, gay marriage… as a country we’re fine with equality we just don’t want it all at once. It’s like let us have these few groups we can keep in a corner cos we’ve already advanced these other groups… can we please just keep a few prejudices over here so we can catch our breath”.