An unexpected party happened at Skylight Books in Los Feliz last Thursday night during the Dave Eggers book reading signing.
Dave Eggers had spent over an hour reading and talking about his new book, Zeitoun, which had gotten a dream review in the New York Times Book Review. The book is a true story about Abdulrahman Zeitoun who lives in New Orleans and stayed there when Katrina hit. When the flooding happened, he got into his canoe and started helping people who were stranded until Homeland Security arrested him. Dave Eggers was so enthusiastic about this story that he talked and talked and read and talked and read and talked. Then he took questions which led to more talking not only about the book but about the McSweeneys empire (newspaper! They want to do a newspaper!).
I was stuck behind the dictionaries, so I didn’t get a good view of all that. The only thing happening around me was a literary boy writing in his journal. I was able to see what he was writing, and he was very in the moment in a literal way.
Because the Skylight staff was totally organized in addition to being awesomely nice, the transition from reading podium to signing table happened quickly. I was able to snag a seat under an indoor tree with clear view of the signing proceedings.
Very soon it was clear to everyone that Dave Eggers was definitely a talker, so the line moved slowly. There was talking and signing and talking and hand shaking and picture taking and more talking. I think Dave Eggers is the most socially well-adjusted writer I’ve ever seen.
As we all waited with our high numbers, a bookstore girl dressed in mod vintage came around with post-its for our names to the signing move even more efficiently. There was controversy because Dave wanted the post-its at the bottom of the page, and she was putting post-its at the top of the page. The bookstore girl looked slightly flustered about this as if she had just done the worst thing imaginable, but she quickly recovered in true mod girl style.
Soon after that, the bookstore staff came around with cheap wine, but that quickly ran out, so out came the Tecate cans. I was really touched. We all drank beer and started talking with each other and singing along to classic Bowie on the stereo.
When number 89 (my number, good number) got called, I felt like an adventurer who had just made it out of the forest. Dave Eggers offered to sign my Dostoyevsky book too, but I said no, he was not allowed. We shook hands. That was that.
I don’t remember much about my encounter with Dave Eggers, but I will never forget the girl next to me who had snagged both a wine and beer and the other lady across from us who was reading some serious modern lit only to look up occasionally with a slightly amused look on her face or how everyone talked about the Dodger Game traffic because in LA, you can easily bond on traffic.
So here is my signed book from the reading. I’m thinking of starting a new project here at Sunshine Jen. It’s going to be The Greatest Writer Ever Project. I should look into getting a grant because books are expensive.
When I told bookstore girl in the mod dress that he should write greatest writer ever, she said, oh, that’s me too. Yes! Yes! We can all be the greatest writer ever. We can be heroes too, if just for one day.