Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.
(1970- ) US editor, screenwriter and author who has also written (in collaboration with his brother) some books for younger children as by Dr and Mrs Haggis-on-Whey; he began to publish work of genre interest with "Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly" in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (anth 2003) edited by Michael Chabon. Much of his work engages in gonzo transgressions of various genres, including the memoir, the journalistic survey of the State of the Nation, and various categories of fiction, including sf; he remains best-known for his first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), a fictionalized memoir. He has also been influential as an editor, first of Might from 1997, and also including Esquire and Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.
Eggers's first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity (2002) comes close to the Fantastic Voyage in its tracing of the trek round the world of its two protagonists, but whose experiences of Transcendence are crippled by the gravity of the world. The Wild Things (2009) novelizes Eggers's and Spike Jonze's script for Where the Wild Things Are (2009), which was based on Where the Wild Things Are (graph 1963) by Maurice Sendak (1928-2012). The advanced holographic device on sale to Saudi Arabia in A Hologram for the King (2012) is a McGuffin; the ambience of the tale as a whole is surreal verging on the fantastic. The Story of Captain Nemo (2013) retells for children Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1873), resetting Captain Nemo's adventures in the twenty-first century. In The Lifters (2018), Eggers's second solo tale for the children's/Young Adult market, the Keep-like town of Carousel is cavitated by a possibly magic incursion of Underground winds, though the eponymous Lifters may succeed in propping up Carousel, and the planet at whose centre it spins.
Of specific sf interest is The Circle sequence beginning with The Circle (2013), a savage Near Future Satire on the technoconsumerist world created and managed in 2013 by firms (goes the argument of the first volume) like Google and/or Facebook, and a few years hence by a world-encompassing octopoidal social-media firm called The Circle, whose ultimate goal is to render every human being into an information-saturated transparency: human beings defined wholly in terms of how they may consume and be consumed. The firm's products include TruYou, a one-button umbilical interface that joins individuals to the entirety of the world, in return for their surrendering any coign of privacy. The tale is specifically an heir of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), very noticeably in its creation of tags that an updated Big Brother might plausibly have mouthed: "Privacy is theft"; "Secrets are lies". Eggers's vision of the neediness of those immersed in Internet social media is cruel, but also hilarious. This novel was filmed as The Circle (2017). The Every (2021) traces the previous novel's seemingly gormless protagonist Mae's rise higher and higher in the Circle, which has now been rebranded as The Every, a planetary octopus that has just acquired what is not called Amazon in the text. It's ultimate goal seems not simply data harvesting for enormous profit, but the gaining of interactional control over its user victims, with the goal of ensuring their continued passivity in the Dystopian new world.
The Parade (2019), set in the implied Near Future of an unknown country recovering from vicious civil war, traces the destructive (though in part constructive) course of an automated road-builder as it gouges a path across the land under the conflicting control of two contractors from abroad (see Imperialism) known only as Nine and Four. [JC]
born Boston, Massachusetts: 12 March 1970
- The Circle (New York: Alfred A Knopf/San Francisco, California: McSweeney's Books, 2013) [The Circle: hb/Jessica Hische]
- The Every (San Francisco, California: McSweeney's Publishing, 2021) [The Circle: hb/]
- You Shall Know Our Velocity (San Francisco, California: McSweeney's, 2002) [hb/]
- The Wild Things (San Francisco, California: McSweeney's, 2009) [hb/Rachel Sumpter]
- A Hologram for the King (San Francisco, California: McSweeney's Books, 2012) [hb/Jessica Hische]
- The Story of Captain Nemo (London: Pushkin Children's Books, 2013) [illus/hb/Fabin Negrin]
- The Lifters (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2018) [illus/hb/Aaron Renier]
- The Parade (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2019) [hb/Shawn Harris]
- The Captain and the Glory (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2019) [hb/Nathaniel Russell]
works as editor
- The Future Dictionary of America (San Francisco, California: McSweeney's, 2004) with Jonathan Safran Foer, Eli Horowitz and Nicole Krauss [anth: hb/]
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