Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genes

Every Wednesday night, I have the privilege of sharing food and wine and conversation and laughter with some of the finest women you could hope to meet. They are smart, funny and beautiful in every way invented. They are doctors, lawyers, stock traders, writers, teachers, mothers. Why they choose to slum with the likes of me I'll never know. But they do, and I spend every Wednesday night counting my lucky stars for them.

Last night, for a change of pace, we decided to branch out and let a boy infiltrate our little Girls' Club. But not just any boy. Dave Eggers.
Dave. Freggin. Eggers.

In case you don't know him, Dave Eggers is a brilliant writer, educator and philanthropist. His first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, got him a stone's throw from the Pulitzer. He is the founder of McSweeney's, a quarterly magazine ("which comes out two or three times a year") and independent publishing house in San Francisco. He's also the heart, brain and soul behind 826 Valencia, an amazing free tutoring outreach program for youth in San Francisco's Mission District, which is now spreading across the country. His commitment to education doesn't stop at kids; he is also a valiant knight in shining armor for teachers. He has personally instituted a monthly grant for exceptional teachers in his area and co-wrote Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers. Also a champion of human rights, Eggers co-founded Voice of Witness, a non-profit series of books that empower victims of contemporary social injustice. He recently co-wrote the film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and co-wrote (with his wife) the screenplay for the upcoming movie Away We Go, starring John Krasinski. His latest book, What Is the What is the novelized autobiography of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino Achak Deng. Not only is Eggers donating all proceeds from this book to aiding the Sudanese in America and Sudan, he has co-founded the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which is improving educational opportunities for Sudanese children.

I'm sure Dave would have gladly accepted an invitation to dine with a bunch of fabulous babes like us, but as you can see, he's a very busy (and married) sort of guy. So we took the party to him, and his lecture/book signing at The Clinton School of Public Service. As you can imagine, his presentation was nothing short of riveting. Entertaining. Enlightening. Inspiring. It was the kind of intellectual, soul stirring experience that incites the deepest of thoughts and most cerebral of conversations. Conversations exactly like this:

"Omigod! Did you see how cute he is!?"

"Totally! He is totally hot!"

"Ohh, and those blue eyes! Did you see those blue eyes?"

"Did you know his hair was so curly? I had no idea his hair was so curly!"

swoon . . . .

PS, When you have twenty minutes, watch this. It's the condensed version of what we savored last night . . . minus the baby blues.



stephanie (bad mom) said...

I was floored by his first book and continue to be impressed & inspired by him. Plus he is super cute & swoonworthy. :D


bloorondo said...

I never met a TED Talk I didn't like; this one was no exception.

But the guy's not all that hot. His hair isn't that curly, and I actually think his eyes are more of a gray. So what if he's rich and he throws his money at making society better, focusing on public school children who have special needs? I could do that in spades with my hands tied behind my back if I was rich like that. I mean, come on!