A Beckettian masterpiece

From The Telegraph:

Martin_main_2467179bDave Eggers has packed such a lifetime of activity into the past 10 years that it’s amazing to find he still has time to write novels. An energetic young literary man who leapt to world attention in 2000 with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – a garrulous memoir bristling with marginalia, footnotes and all the trappings of late-Nineties ironic reflexiveness – he has transformed over the decade into one of America’s most serious, thoughtful and socially engaged writers. Anyone picking up What Is the What (2006), the novelised memoir that Eggers wrote in collaboration with the Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, or Zeitoun (2009), his non-fiction book following a Syrian-American man through New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, would find it near-impossible to reconcile their incisiveness and economy of style with the chatty, self-revising persona in Eggers’s debut.

But Eggers doesn’t just write. His other projects include running his publishing empire McSweeney’s, and its spin-off literary magazine The Believer; a string of charitable books interviewing survivors of human-rights abuses (the series Voice of Witness has reached eight volumes); a clutch of screenplays (Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, Sam Mendes’s Away We Go), as well as the organisation 826 National, a string of drop-in centres he started in San Francisco to offer mentoring, help with homework and creative writing classes to schoolchildren. 826 has now spread to eight cities across the United States (a London chapter opened briefly in 2010), and the initiative has since led to ScholarMatch, an online platform that lets internet philanthropists sponsor promising students through college. This is, by any standards, an astonishing lot of stuff to have done, the kind of industry that usually breeds serious malignity, if not Oxfordian authorship hypotheses, in jealous competitors struggling with the daily 500 words. But the transparency of Eggers’s intentions seems to have put him almost beyond the criticism of his peers.

More here.