Oh well—those college kids didn’t like his book anyway.
Dave Eggers’s memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius has entered the required-reading canon—at Brooklyn College, at least. Incoming freshmen were supposed to read it over the summer. But there were problems. Professors were warned that some Christian students were objecting to the book’s sex and vulgarity. Plus its plot was insufficiently linear. “I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’ ” says freshman Alicia Broomes. It was all supposed to lead up to an Eggers lecture on September 8—but he canceled. (Professors and students were told his reason was that he couldn’t leave his pregnant wife.) Instead, BC showed a video of a two-hour Q&A session Eggers recorded at the school in August, with Eric Alterman there in person to answer questions in Eggers’s stead. Virtual Dave left ’em cold, though. “He did say some interesting things—they were just intercut with, like, a lot of ramblings about Bob Dylan and tobacco companies,” says a prof. Another said, “I gave [the students] a small quiz for extra credit to see if they went—simple questions like, ‘What color was his shirt?’ I think only four or five out of a class of twenty had gone.”