Kurt Vonnegut Radio
Kurt Vonnegut Radio with Gabe Hudson
35. Dave Eggers enters the chat: Part I

35. Dave Eggers enters the chat: Part I

Gabe Hudson talks to the iconic writer abt his lunch w Kurt Vonnegut, McSweeney's "happenings" w David Byrne, and his new novel, The Eyes and the Impossible

No transcript...

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Welcome to Kurt Vonnegut Radio #35

Hey Folks, Dave Eggers is my guest on the show (!!)

Eggers has been a great friend for the last 25 years: since he first popped up on the national stage, with his memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. And his indie publishing juggernaut: McSweeney's. Sometimes you meet someone and you instantly click and they become a lifelong friend. And these people are a blessing in our lives. Treasure them. The older I get, the more I see friendship as the great miracle.

This interview is, in part, to support Dave's new novel, The Eyes and the Impossible. A novel that’s for all ages. And for the ages. This book is written in the first person, from the perspective of a dog named Johannes. (Go ahead, take a second to reread that last sentence.) This book is wondrous, beautiful, hilarious, and somewhat heartbreaking. It also has gorgeous illustrations. And some editions have a wooden cover.

As Dave mentions in the interview, there’s a new limited Oversized Wooden edition (11 x 17 version) of The Eyes and the Impossible, and it weighs 20 pounds. Below is a photo of the original juxtaposed against the new Oversized Wooden edition for scale (McSweeney’s will also be offering a limited number of these Oversized Wooden editions for free to librarians and teachers across America):

The Oversized Wooden edition of The Eyes and the Impossible weighs 20 pounds

I conducted this interview a few days ago. (Special thanks to Raj and Justin at McSweeney’s.) And I'm releasing this interview in 2 parts.

And I promise you’ve never heard Dave Eggers talk like this. About these things.

This conversation did my heart a world of good. And I hope this episode does your heart good too.

Because I made it for you.

*(click play on podcast device above to listen to our convo)


Dave Eggers quotes

On having lunch with Kurt Vonnegut

Gabe: Vonnegut was obsessed with the idea, and I know you know this because I have always known that you love him, too –

Dave: I met him.

Gabe: You met him? Well can you tell me about that?

Dave: in New York. His wife, Jill Krementz, reached out and she was a photographer. So she did a photo thing of me in Central Park. And she said, Oh, you know, you’ve got to come over. And it was a lunch, I think, in their house in the twenties. And it was me. This was 2002. And it was me and Colson Whitehead and, I think John Leonard. And then there was a jazz writer. And then Vonnegut and Jill. And what was funny was… (click the above podcast device to hear the rest)

On early McSweeney’s event with David Byrne

We did one “happening” in San Francisco at a place called Cell Space. Which is this cavernous sort of event hall slash living environment. It was like a pirate ship, with people living in the rafters and under the stage. It was really old timey San Francisco hippie space, but most of the people there were youngish. And we had an event there where David Byrne might have been out here for his book, The New Sins, that we published.

We said it would be a panel. And it was Byrne and I on the panel. And then we got an FBI agent, who I don't know why or who he was. I can't remember how we found him. And then a local professor who was an expert on ancient Sumerian iconography, I think.

And we planted a bunch of people in the audience, so that the Q&A – because I think we went straight to Q&A – was all directed to the Sumerian iconography experts. So that you have David Byrne sitting there, silent, for an hour. Because every last question was somebody like, “Well, in AD 540, the Sumerian, poet…” We had all of these questions written by the expert himself beforehand.

And then the whole thing ended, we had booked, I think with David Byrne's knowledge, but maybe without. We had booked a band called the Extra Action Marching Band, which was a big sort of anarchic marching band with tattoos and piercings and weird clothes. But drums and a majorette and everything. And they broke into the place and then just shut the whole event down by playing in the crowd until it was over. So the event was crazy.

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I’ve got some questions for you. Do you have the answers?

  1. Do you believe that dogs can talk? And if so, what’s the most memorable thing a dog has ever said to you?

  1. Do you have a favorite David Byrne or Talking Heads song?

  2. What’s one of the best things you’ve read in McSweeney’s? (you don’t have to remember the title, you can just describe it)

  3. I love the name Extra Action Marching Band. If you had your own marching band, what would you call it?

  4. If you got to have lunch with Kurt Vonnegut, what is the one thing you’d want to ask him? (aside from, does he listen to this podcast?)`

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Show notes

Buy Dave Eggers’ new novel The Eyes and the Impossible (with wooden cover) from McSweeney’s

Buy Dave’s new novel (without wooden cover) from Bookshop

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