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Dave Eggers In Portland

February 7, 2013

Men of McSweeney's

Tuesday was a good day. My friend Ellison and I dropped in at the Portland indie bookstore Annie Bloom’s. We met a young woman, Nicole, who had traveled by bus on her lunch hour across town so she could meet her favorite author, Dave Eggers. He’s on a book-signing tour for A Hologram for the King. She carried seven of his books in her backpack, and got them all signed. Another Eggers’ fan brought him a perfect pear wrapped in gold foil which he ate and exclaimed over. He introduced his posse to me: McSweeney’s Poetry Editor, Jesse Nathan, and former Mcsweeney’s Permalancer, Chris Benz. We took photos. Everyone had a good time.

You can read my review of Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King here.


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    Diane, Dave Eggers. I am embarrassed to tell you I did not know the name when I read it on my screen. It sounds like a good read and your praise for his writing skills is certainly a good recommendation. I am reading Shelby Foote’s Single Volume of the Civil War– featuring many of the letters President Lincoln wrote to his military commanders who “..have the slows.” Lincoln’s need for military victories during the politically uncertain days of the Civil War fighting–– just before the l864 election––– are remarkable for their candor, their humor and the President’s remarkable knowledge and command of military tactics and strategies. He was an encyclopedia of the geography of the states in which much of the fighting occurred. Diane, o ther than your wonderful husband, I am second to none in my respect and admiration for you and your multiple talents. We are, however, different in our reading preferences. I find the quotes and the first hand evidence of Lincoln’s interpersonal deftness, his constant willingness to subordinate his feelings and preferences in service to higher causes and needs, and his wonderful and sharply pointed political humor–– both clever and witty ––– and melancholy reading. Lincoln was occasionally sorrowful, but always resolute and fixed in purpose. I have read that he was the “greatest personality since Jesus Christ.” I am convinced. The quotes are primary evidence of his anguish, both personal and political, telling us about the quality of his mind and how it served his needs and ours. I learned much more than I knew about America’s greatest political leader and how he nurtured a great state. America was broken, a dream in peril of becoming a nightmare, because the Founding Fathers could not–– or would not–– address the issue of slavery as the Constitution was being written in the late 18th century. It is a wonderful story to read, almost as good as being present, an unseen visitor, silent and watchful, in the President’s office during those years. Diane, we choose to read different sources because we are, in certain ways, different people, each of us keen observers and listeners who see our world through our own idiosyncratic lens. Be Well, Jim

    • Hi Jim, I couldn’t help but smile when I read your post. I too am enthralled by Lincoln and the Civil War. After having visited a number of battlefields two years ago I got hooked, and my fascination hasn’t let up yet. (I visited Petersburg, Antietam, and Gettysburg, as well as a number of museums along the way.) Never had I had any interest in the military or wars—past or present—but the Civil War pulled me in.

      See you’re reading Shelby Foote. He’s great! He’s a storyteller who loves the details of people’s lives, the beliefs and values that drive them and the behaviors that reveal their characters. I’m currently listening to the audiotape of Foote’s three-volume history of the war. The set is three boxes wide and 90 tapes long! It’ll take me my lifetime to finish, but I’m loving every minute. You might also consider James McPherson’s Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, a truly exceptional book. McPherson spends a good deal of time on Lincoln’s deep frustration with his pre-Grant generals, explaining how Lincoln’s need for balancing the politics of war forced him to keep generals (McClellan and Burnside, for example) long after they’d worn out their welcomes.

      At the core of Tried by War, though, is Lincoln’s interpretation and application of presidential war powers as defined by the Constitution, powers that until that time had been untested by any president. Lincoln, in effect, created the notion of “Commander in Chief,” which resulted in his stretching Constitutional limits on a number of actions (his declaration of war and suspension of the writ of habeus corpus, for example) and allowed him to successfully prosecute the war.

      In the end, what captivates me most about the Civil War is the profound influence it had on shaping this country—in ways social, cultural, racial, economic, and political. Those four years embodied incomprehensible bravery, suffering, and loss—and all for an ideology, a cause. The war revealed humanity at its most complex.

      All the best to you!

  2. Nice to see Mr. Dave out on the road. Like most women under 89 I now have a huge crush on him.

  3. Yes E, I must admit my heart flutters and my tongue stutters when I’m around him.

  4. I thought ‘A Hologram for the King’ was terrific but my favorite book by Eggers is still ‘Zeitoun.’ All told, his sensibility as a writer makes me think he’s someone I could easily talk to — even with a fluttering heart.

  5. Michael (of Annie Bloom’s) just tipped me off that I was mentioned in your blog — I, being the bearer of golden pears. 🙂

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