Wednesday, August 05, 2009

stories to tell

i don't get all star-struck and giddy very often. but when i am face to face with one of my literary idols, my mind gets stuck on coming up with something witty to say in the 30 seconds of interaction i get with them that would make them want to be new best friends with me. fortunately, i realize how ridiculous that is, and i come to my senses before i make a gushing fool of myself. this here is dave eggers, who also wrote "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius," an amazing memoir that is equally poignant and humorous (plus he's got the cojones to give a book that title, even sarcastically). not only does he write a great book, but he then starts up a nonprofit, 826 Valencia, "dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing." I've seen some of the work they've done in the mission district and it has been amazing to see what the kids in their programs have created. He also founded mcsweeney's, an indie publishing house that produces great off-the-beaten-path kind of works. one of them being a book series called voice of witness, a "non-profit book series that empowers those most closely affected by contemporary social injustice. Using oral history as a foundation, the series depicts human rights crises around the world through the stories of the men and women who experience them." i may or may not have a bit of a crush on him. what's not to love?

i spotted this book when i was browsing in one of my many favorite indie bookstores (i like to torture myself since i can't/won't buy any of the books). it's his newest book:
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun (pronounced "Zay-toon"), a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four, chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. But, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared.

i haven't started the book yet, but what i gather is that he was detained by the US government without a trial. as i said, i don't get giddy very often, but i'm really looking forward to reading this book. when i spent time in new orleans post-katrina, i was shocked with how the government acted/didn't act during/after this disaster. i am eager to read a story about this, in a story-telling style that i love. read more about the author and the book here.

and that's how i broke my restriction (again - like i said, i am weak) on buying new books and ended up at moe's books last week for dave eggers' signing appearance (at least i held out on buying a copy until i got to the signing). at the front of the line, no less. i didn't know how that happened. i was just looking wistfully at the books on the shelves and there i was. i felt like a total nerd. which was totally fine with me.

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