Dave Eggers


American Writer, Editor, Publisher, Novelist and Screenwriter, known for memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"

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When my parents passed on, and we read their wills, we discovered something we didn?t at all expect, especially from our devoutly Catholic mother: they had both left instructions that their bodies be donated to science. We were bewildered and we were pissed. They wanted their cadavers to be used by medical students, they wanted their flesh to be cut into and their cancerous organs examined. We were breathless. They wanted no elaborate funerals, no expense incurred for such stuff ? they hated wasting money or time on ceremony, on appearances. When they died there was little left ? the house, the cars. And their bodies, and they gave those away. To offer them to strangers was disgusting, wrong, embarrassing. And selfish to us, their children, who would have to live with the thought of their cold weight sinking on silver tables, surrounded by students chewing gum and making jokes about the location of freckles. But then again: Nothing can be preserved. It?s all on the way out, from the second it appears, and whatever you have always has one eye on the exit, and so screw it. As hideous and uncouth as it is, we have to give it all away, our bodies, our secrets, our money, everything we know: All must be given away, given away every day, because to be human means:

Yes, a dark time passed over this land, but now there is something like light.

You treat a kid with respect and as an adult you talk to them as if they're smart people. But you don't throw at them the trappings of adulthood and you know, the darker stuff.

They started a great fire in the middle of the market, and from this fire they took burning logs and torches, and these they threw onto the roofs of most of the homes within a one-mile radius. The few men who resisted were shot. This was effectively the end of any kind of life in Marial Bai for some time. Again, the rebels for whom this was retribution were nowhere to be found.

Through the small tall bathroom window the December yard is gray and scratchy, the tree calligraphic.

We discuss calling the police. We have to quickly review anything that could go wrong if we do. Are our immigration papers in order? They are. Do we have outstanding parking tickets? I have three, Achor Achor two. We calculate whether or not we have enough in checking accounts to pay the tickets if the police demand it. We decide that we do.

We've lost that very simple transaction that's so pure, where a reader can say, "I support what you're doing, here's my dollar. I know that you guys are gonna be watchdogs or keep the government accountable, so here's my 50-cent contribution each day." It's just so tidy, and I think so inspiring.

When there is pleasure, there is often abandon, and mistakes are made.

You and I read the same books and hear the same sermons and we come away with different messages. That has to be evidence of some serious problem, right?

You will die, and when you die, you will know a profound lack of it [dignity]. It's never dignified, always brutal. What's dignified about dying? It's never dignified. And in obscurity? Offensive. Dignity is an affectation, cute but eccentric, like learning French or collecting scarves. And it's fleeting and incredibly mercurial. And subjective. So fuck it.

In the forest, we boys were food.

It was called the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages. If not for the monks, everything the world had ever learned would have been lost. Well, we live in a similar time, when we're losing the vast majority of what we do and see and learn. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Knowledge is a basic human right. Equal access to all possible human experiences is a basic human right.

Maybe he was more than the sum of his broken parts.

Next to the photo was a frown button that said We denounce the Central Guatemalan Security Forces. Mae hesitated briefly, knowing the gravity of what she was about to do?to come out against these rapists and murderers?but she needed to make a stand. She pushed the button.

Openness is all, she thought. Truth was its own reward.

Secrets are the enablers of antisocial, immoral and destructive behavior.

Some of these kids just don't plain know how good they are: how smart and how much they have to say. You can tell them. You can shine that light on them, one human interaction at a time.

The Earth is an animal that shakes off its fleas when they dig too deep, bite too hard. It shifts and our cities fall; it sighs and the coasts are overtaken. We really shouldn?t be here at all.

The only infallible truth of our lives is that everything we love in life will be taken from us.

Then he got more books. He saved all the books.

Individually you don't know what you're doing collectively.

It was just an idea I had, that it could be cool to have a book covered in fake fur.

Late that night, I get back to Grant and Eric?s, and they are watching a movie where Al Pacino is blind. Al Pacino is angry and talks with an unplaceable accent. He is maybe Canadian.

Maybe I wanted to be crushed, too. To be ready you need to be tired, and you need to have seen a great deal, or what you consider to have been a great deal- we all have such different capacities, are able to absorb and sustain vastly different quantities of visions and pain- and at that moment I started thinking that I had seen enough, that in general I'd had my fill and that in terms of visual stimulation the week thus far has shown me enough and that I was sated. The rock-running in Senegal was enough, the kids and their bonjours- that alone would prepare me for the end; if I couldn't be thankful enough having been there I was sick and ungrateful, and I would not be ungrateful, not ever, I would always know the gifts given me, I would count them and keep them safe! I had had so much so I would be able to face the knife in the alley and accept it all, smiling serenely, thankful that I'd be taken while riding the very crest of everything. I had been on a plane! A tiny percentage of all those who'd ever lived would ever be on an airplane- and had seen Africa rushing at me like something alive and furious. I could be taken and eaten by these wet alleyways without protest.

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American Writer, Editor, Publisher, Novelist and Screenwriter, known for memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"